Sunday, July 27, 2008

Faith Zone Challenge, Day 5: Embrace Your Calling

This has been an amazing week! Wow - I have learned so much from everyone who has responded and been greatly encouraged! If there is anyone who has not had time to read through the comments each day, I encourage you to do so! They are wonderful, profound and very meaningful. Thank you all!

Over the past four days, we have spent more with God, and hopefully grown just a little closer to Him as a result. We have been challenged to face any unforgiveness issues that we were hiding in our hearts. We have been challenged to consider our attitudes and whether or not our lives were a reflection of Christ. And yesterday, God's love was shared and spread throughout the US as we each put aside our fears and hesitations, and sought out opportunities to spread the gospel in some way, either through our words or our actions.

My prayer, and challenge, for you today, is for you take an extravagant leap of faith. If you have taken this challenge seriously so far, then your heart should be more prepared to take a leap of faith than it may have been before!

For years, I was convinced that God was stalking me with the verse, Jeremiah 29:11. I knew that God had called me to be a speaker and writer for His kingdom. I had heard His voice, almost audibly it seemed, during a worship service, and there was no doubt in my mind what He was calling me to do.

However, I was scared of drastic change. I was fearful of leaving my comfort zone. I was terrified about what other people might say or think about me if I shared my testimony. I was gripped with fear, and paralyzed by the unknown.
I said no. I walked in complete disobedience to God's will for my life for several years. And to top it all off, I was sure that God was disappointed in me. I am disappointed when my children disobey my commands, and I was sure God felt the same way about me.

But get this.....despite my lack of faith and obedience, God still kept calling me with this same verse - it actually got very annoying!

Jeremiah 29:11 just kept popping up everywhere I went for months, even years! I would see it on TV; in my bible studies; in sermons; my friends would mention it in conversation; it would be on a piece of mail I received; I would overhear a stranger talking about it; it would be on an interstate billboard; my bible would even fall off the table and the pages would miraculously flip open to Jeremiah 29:11! Im not kidding - I was being stalked by God and Jeremiah!

Jeremiah 29:11 says this, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

After all those years of trying to ignore Gods call on my life, and falsely believing that my life was going along just dandy the way it was, I finally, but hesitantly, surrendered. I asked God to forgive me for my blatant refusal to walk down the path that He had prepared for me, and I surrendered my fears, my life, and my future to Him. After all, He promised me that He did have a plan! I wanted to see what it was! My anticipation had been building and I was ready for the blessing!

Months later, after resigning from my job, and having spent many months contacting churches and preparing my heart and my messages, I drove to my first speaking engagement - practically in tears, feeling sick to my stomach.

What was I thinking?! What in the world made me think I could stand up in front a big room of people, who were all staring at me in anticipation of hearing my feeble attempt to share some wonderful gospel truth? I was not a bible scholar, nor a seasoned speaker - OMG! Get the picture? I was a nervous wreck. I questioned Gods call on my life, and also questioned my sanity for taking this crazy step out of my comfort zone. Heavy sigh.

I arrived to the church, and sat in my car for a few minutes, staring out at the rain pouring down. I breathed deeply, with my eyes closed, hoping that maybe nobody had seen me yet, so maybe I could still make a clean getaway. Then I prayed. Hard.

I talked honestly with God. I told Him that I was not capable, but that I trusted Him to give me the right words. I told God that I was afraid, but that I trusted Him to calm my fears. I told God that I was not worthy to be His voice, but I trusted Him to speak through me. I told God that my legs were weak, but that I trusted Him to be my strength.


I said amen, then finally mustered up enough courage to go inside, and was warmly welcomed by the event coordinator. I later stepped onto the stage, and God took over.

I dont know how I did it - no..... GOD did it. I was merely the vessel - He was the deliverer.

Since then I have spoken at many, many events at many, many churches and organizations - but you know what, those same insecurities always creep back into my heart. I say that same prayer before each event, and God never ceases to come through, time and time again.

I learned that I have to choose to listen to the right voice - His voice - not my own, and not my enemys. I have to make a concerted effort not to listen to my inner fears, my self-condemnation or rattle off my feeble excuses trying to convince God that I am still not qualified or worthy to be His vessel.

I have learned that I must consciously choose to listen, trust and fully depend on God every day. You see, tomorrow, He might give me a new command. I want to be ready! What about you?

Has God called you to do something that you feel is completely out of your reach?

Has God called you to go in an entirely direction in your life, but so far you are paralyzed in place?

Has God called you to minister to others in a way that you feel incapable of doing because of your own fears and insecurities?

Are you afraid to move forward with a dream that God has planted in your heart, because you do not feel worthy to be His servant due to your own past, or present sin?

Are you hesitating in your obedience, due to a lack of tools, resources, time, money, etc?

Is God calling you to leave your comfort zone and enter the faith zone?

What is God calling you to do?
Are you willing to do something extravagant for God?

No excuse is good enough for disobedience, I learned that the hard way. The strength of our powerful and almighty God is awesome enough to lead us into extravagant obedience. And just as a special perk for obeying - you will be extravagantly blessed.

____________________________________________________________________________
Challenge #5: Take an extravagant LEAP OF FAITH - embrace the call that God has impressed upon your heart. Listen to the right voice, and forget the excuses.


John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and then appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Galatians 1:15 God, in His grace, chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve Him.



Prayer for today: Oh God, I am humbled by your unfathomable grace upon my life, and your infinite mercy upon me. I can never express the amount of gratitude I have in my heart, not just for what You did by sending your Son to die for me the cross, but for coming into my life and for not giving up on me.

Please pour your strength into my soul, and your courage into my inner most being so that I will step out in faith for YOU - with no excuses. Forgive me for my untimely responses to your call. I praise you for continuing to love me and bless me, despite my hesitations, fears and disbelief that You truly are in control of all things and have an amazing plan for my life.

Thank you for preparing that plan for my life, and for leading down the path that leads me closest to you. Continue to walk beside me Lord, and show me your plan. Lead me Lord. I am willing to do something extravagant for you, because I love you.

In Jesus name, Amen.


Faith Zone Challenge, Day 5: Embrace Your CallingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

17 comments:

donna said...

Why am almost always first to respond, you may wonder? I live on the east coast (North Carolina), my husband is in the Army and so getting up early is in our blood, and though Sundays mornings are more restful, we still don't sleep in much.
Today's challenge: WOW, is about all I can say. I have been struggling with feelings of being stuck in the ruts of the road and know change is what God has in mind but I have so much uncertainty. Thank you, Tracie for your wonderful words of encouragement as I seek to fulfill the promise of a life serving God. My ways are so small, His ways so grand. I read in a study once how God asks us to build skyscrapers and we build chicken coops - and to top it off, we are rather proud of those chicken coops! I am printing your prayer and using it in the coming days and weeks that I might seek and be guided along the true path God has chosen for me that I may build that skyscraper!
Thank you again for this challenge; I have enjoyed it and know that I have a long way to go in living out my life everyday as Christ asks.
Peace and God Bless,
Donna
My life verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Cindy said...

Although I was a WM director at a very large church for 5 years - I left that position and have been paralyzed (spiritually) for the past 17 months.

Today, I will be introduced as the WM director at our new church. I am still very anxious inside but I know I must TRUST my GOD that this IS HIS plan for me.

The timing of today's challenge is a confirmation to my spirit. I realize that there is so much more to the call God has on my life but this is the 'first step' toward obedience.

Thank you for this week of challenges. Thank you for being obedient to the call HE has placed upon your life.
May God richly bless you,
Cindy

Karan said...

Okay, you have been reading my journal!!! Jeremiah 29:11 is my life verse! How perfect is God's timing and how fathomless are His riches! I so needed this confirmation today. You see, I knew God had been calling me to do something that I should have done at 18, and now I am 42. I know, I really put Jeremiah 29:11 to the test! So, please be praying for me as I head back to college to become a secondary English teacher! There, I said it - its out there! And you know, as I sit here listening to FFH's "Its Good to Be Free," that's how I feel now! I think I forget about the verse that states that "the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable." (can't recall the exact address right now) As Donna say, our ways are so small and His so grand. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this challenge! You may never fully know just how much I needed this encouragement and push!! Hopefully this step of faith will lead my out of my wilderness and into the Promised Land!!! Tracie, thank you again and blessings to you!
In His Hope and Love,
Karan

Bridget said...

I am off to pray....you have definitely inspired me to go deeper, to press harder into God. Hopefully I will have a confident, clear picture of what "leap of faith" I should take. Thanks again for the challenges!

gallerhea said...

Tracie,

I guess I'm a little slow on this learning curve. I am going to start again on this 5-day challenge, embracing each step, and refusing to fall again into discouragement.

I am soooo glad that God is so much more patient with me than I am with myself, and hope that you will pray for me, and others like me, who are having a bit of a struggle in the "Faith Zone."

May God richly bless you for your work in encouraging others, and may you also be encouraged yourself, in all the wonderful responses to this challenge!

Your Spiritual Sis,
Gallerhea

Karen said...

For the past several months, I have felt that God was leading me down a road I wasn't sure I wanted to go. Like you, I was beginning to feel as though Titus 2 was stalking me!! Everything I read to people I hardly know talking to me about it and how we needed this ministry at our church. Of course, my usual plan is to think on it, plan it out, and know exactly what's going on before I open my mouth! This morning I decided just to leave the plans to God. I spoke to my pastor and he was so excited. He shared with me how many women had talked to him about their wish to have something like this and even earlier this morning, a visitor to our church wanted to know if we had a Titus 2 ministry because she really wanted a mentor!!
Thank you for your encouragement!
While I feel so very unqualified to do this, I am just going to step out in faith and know that our Sovereign Lord will handle it!!

Karen

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing your own 'wilderness' tour. Along with these ladies, I am seeking direction and courage for what God has for me to do now that both of my boys are going to school, and
we are entering a new phase in our family life. After 8 years as a stay at home Mum (Mom - I'm Australian!), God has reminded me of a dream and a commitment to use my gifts and qualifications, though they seem 'outdated' now, to minister to children in a welfare role.

I've put in my resume at the local school - and will walk by faith to see what happens from there.
Thanks again, Tracie.
Jeremiah 29:11 Blessings - Jackie.

Christy said...

Wow, I am not sure how to respond to this one. I am a stay at home mom for the most part... but I also do hair on the side, from my home, to help make ends meet. I say I am not sure how to respond because... well I guess I need to tell a bit more about myself.... a quick recap of the last Three years. I have a son from a previous relationship and he is going to be 7... I ended up marrying the love of my life 3 years ago this October. 2 1/2 months after married, we were pregnant... had our daughter 3 weeks early... and that was 4 weeks before our first anniversary. We then found out 2 months later... prego again! Last summer I had been feeling the Lord tugging at my heart to be a full time mother to the two children that I would have only a year apart... but HOW??? Well we tried, finacially we were drowning and I had never in my life been in debt before. What to do??? My husband was at a job that didn't pay him enough to make all of our bills... so I started picking up work again, this time from home... It has been a struggle because I still feel that call to be a full time mom, and do all the things I would like to do... but right now I am working 3 days a week in order to help make ends meet. My husband since has a new job and already is in the running to move up in the company ... I am praying that he does and is rewarded by the Lord with a large pay increase in order for me to fully be a stay at home mother. There have been so many times that I have felt as if I was diobeying the Lord and not trusting him enough to be our provider... I honestly tried for the first 3 months of my second child from this relationship... and it just wasn't panning out. Who knows... is this another nudge from the Lord saying... "Christy, it's time to put ALL of your faith and trust in me... I will not let you drown... just as I didn't let peter drown." I don't know, please pray for me in this tought time. Thanks for your guidance through out this week... and to all that have commented... may you all be blessed.
In Christ Alone,
christy

Kate said...

I don't yet have a sense of what it is God is calling me to do, but I pray that I will be open to hear His voice and follow his lead.

Thanks for this challenge, Tracie. It's been revealing and thought provoking, and I've enjoyed learning from you as well as from all of the commenters on your blog. :)

Mari said...

Wow! How perfect this was for me. I just prayed last night for God to send me a flashing neon sign about three things he has called me to. One is a book He placed on my heart to write (I'm an aspiring author). It's not what I would have thought of for a first book but He's been very clear. Another is a relationship tool for moms and teen daughters. The final thing is a prayer ministry in our church for our teen girls. I've been saying "Lord surely You are joking. I have two kids. I work full-time. I have a husband. I'm involved in ministry at church. Where in the world would I find time? How could all this happen in my one life? Perhaps I heard you wrong. Perhaps You meant one of these things and not all three."

So I asked for a flashing neon sign that He meant all three. So I woke up this morning and saw this challenge. WOW! In my quiet time, it was about faith. In my bible study it was talking about believing God for your calling, knowing HE can do it through you. So I guess I got three flashing neon signs. All I can say is "Lead me Lord"

Thank you Tracie. What a fabulous week of challenges. I have learned so much and dug so deep. Bless you!

Alichia said...

Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse!
Over the last couple of months I am 'being stalked' by John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and then appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." (Yes, again in your devotional today). I know God is leading me somewhere...I pray I'll be prepared to follow.

Joy in The Truth (Sharon Sloan) said...

Tracie,

It's exciting to see how God has called us each in different ways, according to the gifts He's give us and for His purposes and glory! As we are abiding in Him and seeking Him daily, it is truly glorious to see the Body of Christ working harmoniously together as we answer His call on our lives!

Thanks again for encouraging us and challenging us for His glory!

May He bless your heart to overflowing!

Sharon

Micca said...

Tracie, you've both inspired and challenged me!Thank you!!

My life verse is Gal 2:20.
This verse challenges me everyday!! And everyday I have to take a leap of faith in order for God to live His life through me.

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

What a great challenge! I find it's such a balancing act in clearly seeking out if it's His voice that is calling us, or our desires. I find in my own life Satan can mask "very good 'godly' things" which not only takes me away from truly drawing into an intimacy with my heavenly Father, but allows me many missed opportunities. That manipulator will use the bondage of busyness to lure me amongst all my "good things."
I love that embracing your calling can be something as little as reaching out of your comfort zone and encouraging one person in a tangible way each and every day. Can you imagine the impact on the world that trickle down effect would have? It takes intentionality. I guess I have been pondering this lately because I had a man at church come up and tell me how I reached out to him and encouraged him years ago and it's stuck with him to date. I had no idea. That meant more than all the "comments" from ladies at all the retreats I have ever done. How many people who I rub shoulders with on a daily basis have I missed because I was concentrating on "the greater good." I am embracing your challenge and looking at my immediate circle this month.

Heather Conrad said...

Tracie, I have been so encouraged and so blessed to have fallen upon this faith zone challenge at this time in my life. We (I know I'm speaking for others) appreciate all the time and mental energy you expended through this calling because I imagine at times you may have wondered why?
It is so encouraging to find solace, peace, and refreshment in this new blogging world. I went from a year of all out ministry, loving the "doing", to a time of letting go and drawing closer to him in a more quiet, personal fashion. I believe he's preparing me for whatever lies ahead (but I've but naggin to find out just what this is). I do believe he is calling me to something and it scares the pants off of me. I can relate to your stories, and I even have many stories of Jeremiah 29:11 (it's actually stenciled on my daughter's bedroom wall). I continue to pray, wait, and rest in Him as I lay my dreams at his feet because all I desire is to be in the center of his will, and though doubts may creep in, I need look no further than his past faithfulness. God bless you Tracie.

Joyful said...

Wow Tracie, you are digging deep my friend. I love what you wrote in your prayer: "Forgive me for my untimely responses to your call. I praise you for continuing to love me and bless me, despite my hesitations, fears and disbelief that You truly are in control of all things and have an amazing plan for my life."

Tomorrow is my last day of employment. The Christian bookstore where I've been employed is closing. Although I was offered a position at a "sister" store about 45 min. away, I did not have peace to say yes to this invitation. My "dream job" had been to work in a Christian bookstore, and God was so gracious to give me the desire of my heart. This job came as a surprise - without having even submitted a resume, a phone call came completely "out of the blue" offering me this job. Now it is over. I think of the verse, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord".

Over the past MANY years, I have felt God calling me to write more. It's been comical the way He has allowed some of His guidance to come - even through a cookie at a Chinese restaurant that said, "You will one day write a book".

Although the prospect of that sounds exciting, I feel sooooo inadequate. I think of all the books out there already...what more could I possibly say? Yet, the Lord has continued this message - through His Word, through others, through messages, movies...cookies :o) I hesitate because I don't know where to begin. Even while at "She Speaks" this past June, while attending a workshop that Glynnis was leading, at one point she asked us to write the title of a book/article we would write and the words I wrote on the page WERE NOT the words that were in my head. As I stared at what I wrote on the page after I made this observation, I wondered, "Does God want me to write about that?"

Mmm...take a leap of faith? Maybe my job coming to an end is truly a God thing, as I will be home again and maybe that's all part of His plan. Actually...no "maybe" about it...it IS God's plan!

My theme verse this year has been Hebrews 11:41, "By faith Joy..." as I'm asking God to write His faith story over me. Travelling to "She Speaks" was one faith step after another (it took me 21 posts on my blog to write about it!!!). I've been wondering since coming home what faith step God wants me to take next. I think I already know.... :o)

Thanks for the 'push'.
Following Him,
Joy

PS. Yesterday I shared God's love with the attendant at the gas station, with a VERY active little child who came to the store with his mother - who I would have loved to have tied down somewhere to have kept from destroying the place and with my own Mom who just needed a listening ear and some encouragement.

jburke said...

Hi I am about to embark on a new journey for me"public speaking"
I am adressing our MOPS group and feel called to share my story, and strength in Jesus. I do shake in fer every time I think of this-- but I know that I can do all things through Christ who strenthens me. It has been hard to leave the other job!! and say good bye to some people and tasks
but I look forward to the new adventure