My recent blog series titled Live…Like Someone Left the Gate Open! started as two sermons. (If you haven’t read the series, you’ll find the first blog here.) From those sermons, God birthed a small group that has been meeting weekly for about a month. We are breathing life into one anothers’ dreams through prayer, encouragement, study and love. We are looking forward to God opening doors as we pursue the dreams He’s put into our hearts. The excitement is growing as our hearts are turned to live like God has left the gate open.

A friend from the group concluded an email to me today with these words:

I sense that God has the “horses” saddled, fed, and watered, and ready to take us on the quest. All we have to do is hop on and ride!

My response was half prayer to the Lord and half response to my friend:

Lord, we’re ready to ride! If the horses are saddled, fed and watered, I think what’s left is for us to get into the saddle! Lord, I’m not very good with horses – they kinda scare me and the worst part is getting from the ground into the saddle – help me get in the saddle! Because I, too, want to ride!

I want to ride on whatever adventures the Lord puts before me, don’t you? I mean, deep in your heart, don’t you want to follow the Lord with all you’ve got? I bet you do. Yet taking that first step can be pretty scary.

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of “first step” I am taking, my internal response is very likely to be more related to fear than enthusiasm. Yes, I’m incredibly excited at the thought of the Lord using me to accomplish His eternal purposes…but sometimes my motivation lags a bit – I mean…

Do I really have to get from the ground into the saddle? Couldn’t I just ____________ (fill in the blank with any easy, enjoyable thing)?

Well, yes, I could just do that – and I might well be accomplishing one of God’s purposes for my life. But everything I read in Scripture, whether Old Testament or New, tells me that God calls us to increasingly bigger tasks. Stepping up to those tasks means embracing a lifestyle of “firsts.”

Everything you and I have ever done we had to do a first time. You know what? We lived through all of them! And in most cases, our lives are better for it! Sure, there may have been some degree of discomfort involved, but we did it! There may have been some white knuckles and bruised knees (from prayer, I hope), but we did it! And now we have a track record of success. Did you get that – you and the Lord have a track record of success. I am confident that He wants to build on record.

I’m a part of a secular mastermind group – five women who meet together monthly to share accomplishments, goals, and encouragements. I realized as I prepared for our meeting this month that the things I have not yet accomplished stare me in the face every day – they stay on my to do list being moved from day to day then week to week. They represent a degree of failure, even though I know that in most cases I made conscious decisions to move the tasks forward so that I could accomplish something of greater priority that day. The light bulb that went on as I prepared for the meeting was that those few tasks that are not getting done were overshadowing the sense of accomplishment for the many more tasks that I had completed. Oh, Lord, how many times must I learn the lesson of focusing on the right things?

I suspect that our degree of fear over first steps relates a lot to whether we’re looking at our past failures or sustained successes. Am I afraid to jump into the saddle because I overshot the saddle once and landed unceremoniously on the ground a bit bruised and greatly embarrassed? Perhaps if I remember all the times I’ve successfully gotten from ground to saddle and accomplished the task God put before me, I’ll look at the upcoming adventure with God with enthusiasm instead of fear. I can name many successes, ranging from as simple as developing the habit of regular Bible reading (yes, that’s a success) to ministering to a friend (often a very difficult thing – yes, it’s a success) to preaching my first sermon (even when we are certain of our calling, fear can take hold of us). You can name many successes – go ahead, name a few. I’ll wait!

Now, take a deep breath. Say a thankful and faith filled prayer, and take that first step!

Remember, the Lord has said:

5b “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NRSV)

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