Sunday, August 16, 2009

Faith Zone Challenge Day #5: Embrace Your Calling

This has been an amazing week! 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. I dont know about you, but nothing is more motivating to me than hearing about all the wonderful things that God is doing in the lives of His children, and how He so miraculously ordains our experiences each and every day. Thank you all for being so open and honest this week!

Over the past four days, we have spent more time 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 minds 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 that you are ready to 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!

Let me give you a little bit of background on me, so you will understand why I believe with all my heart that taking a leap of faith and embracing whatever God has called us to do is so important, if we want to see God begin doing miracles in our lives.

It all started during a womens seminar at my church nine years ago, where I can honestly say that I heard Gods audible voice, or so it seemed to me.

I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had impressed upon my heart that He desired that I share my story, shed my hypocrisy, and become transparent for His glory, but at the time I was not quite sure what that meant. My fear of obedience became overwhelming, because I was completely unaware of what "obedience" meant. I was acutely confused at how God could use me.

In addition, I was scared of drastic change, or any change for that matter. I was fearful of leaving my comfort zone. I was terrified of what other people might say or think about me if I shared my testimony. I was not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to follow Gods plan. I was gripped with fear, and paralyzed by the unknown future that would follow.

So I said no to God that day. Sadly, as a result, I walked in complete disobedience to Gods will for my life for five years. Instead of giving in to Him, I gave into my fears, and stayed firmly put in my uncomfortable comfort zone.

However, the entire time that I was treading down my own pitiful path, the more God worked on my heart. In fact, the farther I walked away from His call, the more I became convinced that He was stalking me with a bible verse! It seemed to be in my face every time I turned around, so much so, that it actually got a little spooky.

Seriously, this verse 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 scripted on a card from from a church member; it would be on an interstate billboard; my bible could fall off the table and the pages would miraculously flip open to the chapter containing that verse!

To think that God was divinely intervening in my life with something as simple as a repetitive bible verse, seriously grabbed my attention.

This verse I am speaking of is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not harm, plans for a hope and a future."

Thank goodness that our God is such a patient God. Thank goodness that He does not give up on us, even when we give up on ourselves. He continued to work in my heart over those years, and my confidence in Christ gradually grew, as I watched God continue to stalk, I mean call, me with Jeremiah 29:11.


After all those years of trying to ignore the plans that I knew I had heard, 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 trust Him, and I surrendered my fears, my life, and my future to Him.

It was not easy, and I still had concerns, but I realized that all those years, He had been reassuring me that He did have a plan! I finally came to a point where I wanted to see what His plan was!

Months later, after God had orchestrated various events that led me to resign from my job and begin working towards becoming a speaker, to my surprise, a church actually booked me to come speak. Why? I have no idea. But they did.

The day finally came, and I began driving toward this very 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, Christians in fact, who were all staring at me in anticipation of hearing my feeble attempt to share some wonderful gospel truth? I was a nervous wreck, so full of insecurities that I could barely breathe.

I began to question Gods call on my life, and also questioned my sanity for taking this crazy step out of my comfort zone. I spent a lot of time beating myself up with all the justifications for why I must have lost my mind somewhere along the path of decision making that I had been traveling.

But the event was now, and I had no choice but to push past my fears. I arrived to the church, and sat in my car for a few minutes, staring out at the rain pouring down and beating loudly on my windshield. Why did it have to rain today? It just seemed like one more thing to make me stumble.

I breathed deeply, and tightly closed my eyes, wondering if maybe no one had seen me yet and I could make a clean getaway.

I knew I could not really do that, so what did I do? I prayed. Hard. Earnestly. With passion. Through tears. With a desperate plea for God to show up in my place.

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.

Then I said amen, and mustered up enough courage to walk towards the entrance. Then something amazing happened - God took over. I was merely the vessel - He was the deliverer.

Since that experience years ago, 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. And I have made it a practice to say that same simple prayer before each event - simply asking for God to show up and take over - and God never ceases to come through, time and time again.

I tell you all this not to toot my horn, because if you think about it, the timeliness of our response to God is a true measure of our faith. My timeliness was not impressive at all. But I hope that encourages you, and helps you undersand that we all have fears and insecurities and lack of understanding. But it is okay. God can do miracles if we give Him something to work with.

It is never too late to say yes to God. And when we finally do, the rewards will far outweigh the costs. The blessings will far outweigh the sacrifices. And a new life in the center of His will, far exceeds any life we could create for ourselves.

What about you? Has God called you to do something that you feel is completely out of your reach? Out of your comfort zone? Outside of your qualifications?

Has God called you to go in an entirely new direction in your life, but so far you have been paralyzed due to fears and insecurities?

Has God called you to minister to others in a way that you feel incapable of doing?

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 sins in your past or present?

Are you hesitating in your obedience, due to excuses that seem valid, such as a lack of tools, resources, time, money, etc?

Are you willing to do something extravagant for God?

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

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

15 comments:

Connie said...

Thanks for sharing your story today. It is so helpful to see how the Lord worked in your life to lead you to what He had planned for you all along.

I attended SheSpeaks this year for the first time. I came knowing that the Lord wanted me to learn things that I would need to use in the future, and that He would be putting tools in my hands that I would need to know how to use.

But on Saturday morning I decided that I was only going to learn while I was there and not come home and do anything differently, just continue on in my comfort zone. I lacked the faith to see how God could use someone like me. I wasn't all of the things I thought a speaker should be.

And then at lunch my name was drawn to receive the Next Step conference calls! While it was exciting to win (I never win drawings and prizes) I KNEW that this was from the Lord. He was giving me another tool to equip me.

In the prayer room my name was placed on Jehovah-Jireh...the Lord will provide!!! Another confirmation among several others that He gave me to let me know that He will provide whatever I need to accomplish His will in me.

Thank you for this challenge...I want to follow in obedience and not allow my fears to overcome me and sidetrack me.

And if you don't mind, I am going to use your prayer when I do go out and speak one day!

The Seeking Mom said...

I think this was my favorite post of the week. I really enjoyed your honesty about your own struggle--and all the questions you posed. As I read through the questions, I felt my spirit silently saying "Yes" to each one. And as I read the challenge, I started asking a lot of questions...how? when? now? But I sensed God saying, Just write. Write the book that's been inside me for years now but I've been afraid to share. It's exciting to step out in obedience and see where God will take me. Thank you for the encouragement!

Angie said...

Obedience is something I have struggled with recently. God was asking one small step of obedience from me, but I fought it. I didn't fight it because I thought I new best. In my heart I knew I should obey, it was the voice of Satan telling me it was not necessary. This fight went on for weeks, but God is a patient God. He will also remind us in any way He chooses, what He is asking from us.

Fears, insecurities and lack of understanding are all to familiar to me. Stepping out of my comfort zone is hard, and I have only taken baby steps. But I know He has rewards waiting for me.

When will I take that next step of faith? I don't know. Will I fight it as hard? I don't know that either. I want to take an extravagant leap of faith, to accept the blessing He is waiting to shower on me, but it comes down to the meaning of this challenge. Faith! My faith is beginning to grow. I am beginning to see His work in my life. It is all the process of taking baby steps.

Thank you for this challenge Tracie. Every one was something I needed and will not be something that was done just the five days. I will use what I have taken from this challenge to change my ways. To apply what I have learned and praying I will say yes the next time I am asked something from God.

Jill said...

Tracie, I have greatly enjoyed your challenge, but even more importantly God is working through it. Your words today have really made me think. You talk about embracing our call and as I reflect on the last year I'm thankful to say I'm beginning to do that. And the look back has been a good thing.

I don't say that because everything has been a great experience but instead because God's become more real thru it and strengthened me because of it. Initially my mind goes to Aug. 30 of '08 - the day we experienced a miscarriage. I can vividly remember the day beginning when I just knew something was wrong, I had called the Dr, made an appointment and then before we left we did devotions as a family. I was reading that day and our NT reading was from Luke 22 - words I've read numerous times, but the meaning bacame personal that Sat. morning. As I read about Jesus asking the Father to remove the cup, I prayed the same thing, but also continued with his words, but yet not my will, but thine be done. We went to the hospitol where our loss was confirmed, but God's presence was strong.

He continued to hold me up and ten days later I was blessed to see his call for me unfold in a more positive way. I was offered a contract on a book (something I too had fought) I had written. This wasn't all glorious news, as it is a personal account of the beauty of a spiritual mother-daughter relationship and those who don't know Christ (close family memebers) do not understand.

The year went on and He kept calling me out of my comfort zone and even laid a women's conference on my heart, which had been there for a couple of years. But now He was pulling the pieces together. By January we had a team together and prayers were rolling, February came and I approach Renee Swope about being our speaker. By March God was bringing this all together, but again his plans were different than mine. Days before her contract was due back, I found out I was expecting. Exciting but with a due date 2 days before the Retreat date I was overwhelmed. Still God impressed on my heart this was something I needed to do, so I embrace the call and move ahead with the great possibility that I won't be there. But as my husband says "God can still do it."

Then this past month as he keeps revealing things I found myself at She Speaks. I nearly made enough excuses to avoid that call as well, but am so thankful His strength moved me ahead. But again the call isn't always easy because as I've returned to reality the devil is roaring and the last week has been a challenge as he fills my mind with doubts, worry and fear. But as our pastor reminded us all this morning, we dont' have to fight that battle, Jesus will do it for us and He's already won.

So guess what I'm trying to say is as we embrace this call we have to know it won't all be easy. But God is doing so much through the good and the bad and every step we take simply prepares us for the one yet to come.

Thank you for sharing Tracie, your words this week have been a real encouragement!! Blessings to you, Jill

LeeAnn said...

Dear Tracie,

I hope I get to meet you in person someday! God has used you to bring this challenge to me and to uncover areas that I needed to completely surrender to Him. This time with you has been God ordained.

My life started out in the midst of much dysfunction and very little encouragement, which produced alot of stinkin thinkin and low self-esteem issues. But when I turned 12 yrs. old, my siblings and I began living with our wonderful grandparents. They were a gift sent from God into my life. I have always called them my angels because they gave me wings! Their love and encouragement was sent from God and soon after going to live with them, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour.

God has helped me to change many of those false beliefs that I had of myself as a child. And he has given me such a passion in my heart to want to help other women feel good about who they are, and to overcome obstacles so they can be and do all God has purposed for them. I guess I want to help give them wings, as my grandparent's did me. To pass on God's love and His wonderful encouragement! Until this challenge, fear, forgiving myself for mistakes, and feelings that I didn't have the qualifications, have frozen me into analyzing possible opportunities for telling my story (testimony). I chose not to trust the Lord for what He was asking me to do. Now I realize that my reluctance and lack of action is really disobedience. And as you said, "No excuse is good enough for disobedience."

I am excited about stepping out in faith and doing something extravagant for the Lord. Not sure exactly what form that will take on yet, but I am listening for the Lord to show me each step. I will trust Him to provide. I will ask Him to show up and take over instead of my fears. His plans are perfect, and I am so blessed that He wants to use me as His vessel.

Thank you Tracie for sharing your story and being so Real with us. Thank you for obeying the Lord and giving us this challenge. Thank you for letting Him do His work through you. I have not gone to She Speaks yet, but I am planning on how I can get there next year. I hope I will meet you and then share with you, all that has happened in my life because I took this challenge.

May God Bless You Abundantly,
Lee Ann

Janice said...

Tracie,
I can't begin to tell you how these past 5 days have enlightened my life. The day I started this, I was really down and depressed and couldn't seem to get out of my pit of despair. Everyday was good, but days 2 & 3 were the days God touched me in such a personal way. He took away my bitterness and replaced with his love and especially with his JOY. Oh how great it feels to be filled with his joy and to change my attitude. What peace I have now. Please pray for me as I step out in Faith to lead a young Mom's Bible Study. God has laid these women on my hearts for months. We started last year and took a break for the summer. They want to start back up but I was making excuses because I did not feel I could do this. I can't on my own but I know God can thru me.
Thank you so much, Tracie.
Janice

Mary said...

Tracie,

Thank you for this challenge and for sharing your story today. I am ready to do something extravagant for God!

About 3 months ago I began to give into God as I felt him calling me into a new direction with my life. I have felt the nudge for a while but have been afraid to follow His leading. I have had an amazing walk this summer. I have followed God's lead and have been amazed by the doors He has opened and closed.

I have never considered myself a writer or a teacher. But, God has given me the opportunity to lead a small group in my Church's Bible Study Fellowship this fall. I have also felt God's call to write down the many incredible ways he has blessed my family over the last 3 years.

One of my biggest fears is failure. I have only told 4 people what I feel God leading me to do. I'm afraid if people know about the direction God is leading me in I won't live up to their expectations. My husband attended a prayer meeting 2 weeks ago. When he came home he told me he asked the men there to pray for me. I was terrified and upset that he had actually told other people. Since that prayer meeting God has given me so many more indications that He will guide me and give me the strength that I need to do His will.

God is good! I have certainly learned over the years that life is not always easy but, God will be there with me if I will only trust in Him.

Thank you Tracie for the encouragement.

Mary

Beth said...

I have so enjoyed the posts left by others in response to the daily challenges. I especially loved today's blog. Thank you! We put so many excuses in the way of God's plan for our life......I do it too. I can think of so many excuses I've given God for why it's "not me" He is calling. All the reasons why I'm not qualified. Again, as I already know, we are each qualified thru Christ! Praise God for his grace and mercy!

As a side note, today is my birthday and I have been so blessed to spend the day with my hubby and 2 girls. A relaxing day with a specially prepared breakfast by my family and worship together. In our prayers tonight, we thanked God for the gift of family and the precious times he has given us. Handmade cards and sticky kisses are the best!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie,
I Thank God for you and all the others who left there comments on your blog...we are all so unique in are own special way.

My bible story is never ending...I don't quite know how to start it I know I won't be able to say it all. But here is a start....20 years ago...Me and my husband were ready to start a family....God had other plans for me....He needed my heart to be more like his...He changed my heart through this trial and through a few others...He had my heart long for 4 years to want to be a "Mom". Everyone we hung around with...did anything with all were having children...."Why was I being punished?"....Through many tears...counseling...So much more to tell about how,where,and when so i will just say...God showed us his mercy.

He given us our first precious son..2 and a half years later another son. Today they are 16 and 13. I am so content of being their Mom...My life is full...right now I feel this is exactly where God wants me to be. This world today tells us to be busy...busy....busy...It sadden my heart always to see young ones being shuffled here and there...so their desires are met. Children are left to the wayside...I alway wonder is this really God's plan for his gift he has given to us who are parents. (which is one of the best gifts we can receive), or do we want our own desires to me met?. To many being raised by a TV...computors...games ect...ect...

Read this verse just the other day ...I believe it was placed before me to remind me I am exactly where I need to be. It comes from Jeremiah 50:6,"Lost sheep were my people, their shepherds misled them, straggling on the mountains; From mountain to hill they wandereed, losing the way to their fold." Just lets me to ponder....Are we as parents mis leading our sheep? Who are we leaving them to guide them?

God loves the one who finds contentment. I wonder alot? What are your people searching for? God is peace.....

He has lead me to Mother 2 of his sons.

A Truly God Bless to each of you..Tracie the words of which I would like to express to you...are overwhelming right now...A Thank You just doesn't seem like enough. Experiencing real strength was felt through these 5 days....May we continue to guide each other...one day at a time.

God Bless....Rhonda

Tracey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tracey said...

I'm not even sure what to say. God has also been stalking me with Jeremiah 29:11. Lately I have felt him pressing me to lead a singles group in my church. The funny thing was after that feeling I was deeply distressed. I had felt like a rag doll being pulled in two different directions. That was a very hard moment for me. Reading your challenge just confirms to me that this is what I need to do, no matter how I may be feeling. I want to say yes to Him and to obey Him more than anything. I will push past my human insecurities and trust in heavenly direction.

Thank you again!

tam said...

Tracie....Oh my. thank you so much for your honesty regarding your struggle with letting go, and stepping out on faith, into the unknown. I wish I could write about the circumstances I am facing, going through daily, but the Lord used this post to gently tap my shoulder (*heart) and say, "Hmmm...is this sounding familiar??" Oh please pray for me. I THINK I know what He has called me to do...but yet sometimes I wonder. Embrace my calling....I feel so inadequate. I guess that's why God chooses the ones who feel this way, for if we felt we were "adequate" (in our own strength/abilities) then we would "not need to depend on Him for the ability to do His work." He uses the powerless, the weak, the feeble, the totally inadequate ones.
Oh my. Thank you. Please pray for all of us.
God bless you for stepping out of your comfort zone, and may He continue to give us the courage and willingness to obey His calling for our lives as well.

Danielle said...

Tracie... what is there to say, but Thank you! Thank you for being a part of God's plan in touching women's lives and helping them be obedient to God's call.

Last year, God called me to begin a small Mother-Daughter bible study. My daughter was 8 at the time and I wanted it to be for Mothers with daughters around her age. I am ashamed to say with summer months and other things getting in the way, we dropped, or I dropped the ball. We were only meeting once a month, but as people started not showing... there were only 12 of us, all together--I became discouraged. I allowed the enemy in and gave him a foothold. God is calling me back to that same purpose. Why? I still wonder. I fail with my daughter more than should be allowed, but just as our Father is forgiving, so is my precious daughter.

That same vision He placed in my mind and on my heart is still there... it's just taken a little turn into something more. Something bigger. With trepidation and excitement, I am going to be stepping out soon to begin a new journey with the Father, my daughter and others. Pray that we allow God to move. Pray that our hearts, mothers-daughter, and others are open to how the Lord's Spirit leads.

Again... Thank you!

B His Girl said...

Great post Tracie. Love hearing more of your story. God keeps that verse in front of me too. When I see it, I look closely for all the words around it.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished. Luke 1:45

Joyful said...

WOW! An "extravagant LEAP OF FAITH". Not a little jump or a safe step...but an extravagant leap!

On the edge of the cliff...knowing that with my "leap" He will either catch me or teach me how to fly,
Joy