An indispensable part of our walk with God is hearing his voice. There’s just nothing like it, and it provides the insight and direction we need to move ahead. Without it we’re left wondering and wandering. The meaning of our life is anybody’s guess.
His word comes to us in a few different ways. Chiefly, the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the written Word of God. Beyond that, God can speak through prophetic ministry, dreams, and even circumstances. For big junctions in my own life I notice that God speaks through a few of those channels; it’s like his voice is coming at me in stereo. And most people I talk to start nodding at this point, because they too have experienced the same phenomenon. A scripture verse spring to life in your heart, and then you pass a billboard on the highway with the same phrase on your way to church, and then your pastor preaches on that exact verse, and just then you get a text from a friend out of the blue that says, “You know, I have a verse on my heart for you…” It’s powerful.
The Adventure Begins
But once God speaks, the adventure has only begun. We may gain new clarity or encouragement that God is working on his plan for our lives. But what’s next? Some people get stuck in “the word cycle.” They love the exhilaration of getting a word from God so much that they go back for another spin. But once God has spoken, he’s looking for a specific response: courage.
You see, once we hear from God, we’ve got to act upon it. When he speaks, he calls us higher and challenges us out of the status quo, business as usual. His agenda is our greatness, and he wants to draw ever nearer to him in the process. The thoughts and plans he has in mind are for our good— we can trust him. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll be comfortable.
So in the face of exhilarating uncertainty, we’ve got to go for it, to step out, to leap. After all, we’ve heard his voice and we know what he wants, which means we’re not wondering anymore what we’re supposed to do. And since we’re not wondering, it’s time to stop wandering, and instead give ourselves in a focused way to “be about our Father’s business.”
The Problem of Fear
I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done. Fear is the first thing we run into after we get a genuine word from God. Abraham told people that his wife was his sister. Peter walked on water until fear got the best of him. We could add our own stories to the list because the. Struggle. Is. So. Very. Real.
Fear is a fact of life. I don’t mean that we must give in— far from it. We are sons and daughters of God’s heart, and his love overcomes all fear, specifically the fear of rejection after we’ve failed. What I mean is that if we are growing as we should, we will regularly be facing challenges that are bigger than the ones we’ve already mastered, and we’ll face uncertainty as we chart waters that are past the edges of our map. We’re going places! It’s exciting! But it can be scary, and oftentimes fear comes with the territory. It’s better to learn what to do with fear than to constantly figure out what to do when it rears it’s head.
The Apostle Peter writes about courage in his second letter. In this letter, he recommends a list of eight habits that, if continually practiced, will ensure we are always fruitful and always taking ground. Here’s the list:
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (verse)
So faith is first on the list, and that’s a given. Faith means we have surrendered our hearts and lives and plans to our good father and that we trust him with our lives.
The second item on the list is virtue. Virtue has a number of synonyms all kind of wrapped up in one word. Nobility. Excellence. And, yes, courage. Think of a king or a queen, a courageous soul that rules with wisdom and vigor. Peter says that if you have faith, the next thing you should cultivate is the courage of a king.
Fear is a really uncomfortable emotion; I don’t like it. But if we face it enough, we know what to do with it. Whenever we feel fear or uncertainty, that should be our cue to muster courage. We need to work it like a muscle, to make a habit out of dealing with fear by calling upon courage. I have found four steps to the process:
- Feel the fear. Instead of expressing it as anger or sadness, actually take a minute and feel it.
- Name the fear. Ask yourself, what exactly am I afraid of? I’ve found that the emotion itself is often ambiguous and the answer not altogether apparent.
- Acknowledge the fear. There’s no sense in beating yourself up for being afraid. Instead either acknowledge the fear as valid (I could fail and be embarrassed!), or as something that could never happen (I could die from a Sharknado!). If it is valid, think of ways to minimize the danger, but no matter what…
- Make a move. This is the final and most important step. If you’ve heard God, you’ve got to move, even if there are real dangers that you can’t mitigate.
This is how to cultivate the courage of a king. Do this enough times, and fear won’t be a factor any longer. We must develop the habit of meeting every challenge, obstacle, and fear that stands between where we are and where God told us to go with resolute courage of conviction. If we’re constantly surprised by fear, we’ll always have to deal with it in a fresh way. But if we’ve cultivated the habit of kingly courage, we’ll be on our way to taking action on the dreams that God has spoken to our hearts.
Join us for prayer every night during the fast from 6pm – 8pm at Life Church.