Stepping Out #Write28Days

Each year, I try to seek God about what He would have me focus on for the year. Some years I am better than others about following through on it, but I do generally ask and begin seeking areas where He is trying to grow me. This year was no different, and even before the year began, I knew my theme would be Stepping Out.

This is definitely a work in process, but as I begin this challenge to write 28 days, I want to focus on what I feel God is speaking to me about stepping out during this time. It may be areas I need to stop making excuses, or areas where I am stepping out. Even this exercise of discipline in writing it me stepping out in 2021!

This will be the Landing page for the #Write28Day Challenge for 2021.  Each day I will add a link for the current writing day. Word Prompts will be used as much as I can just to go with the spirit of the challenge.  This blog is inspired by Anita Ojeda and the #Write28Days Challenge.  The challenge is to write 28 days in February.  For more information or to get involved, go to Write28Day.

Day 1: Disappoint

Day 2: Enthusiasm

Day 3: Learn

Day 4: Make

Day 5: Sunrise

Day 6: Awe

Day 7: Emphasis

Day 8: Exasperate

Day 9: Energize

Day 10: Predicament

Day 11: Argument

Day 12: Once

Day 13: Awestruck

Day 14: Creativity

Day 15: Habit

Day 16: Serendipity

Day 17: Profession

Day 18: Experience

Day 19: Observant

Day 20: Peaceable

Day 21: Recuperate

Day 22: Resemble

Day 23: Perception

Day 24: Persistent

Day 25: Patience

Day 26: Enable

Day 27: Hibernate

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Don’t Hibernate

God did not design us to remain inactive, to hibernate in the world around us; He created us to step out. He did not design us to stay, but to go.

We are called to go into our prayer closets. We can accomplish more in five minutes in prayer than all our efforts combined. “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew‬ ‭6:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We are called to go and make disciples. We are called to further the Kingdom of God, by sharing Him with others and baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can not make disciples if we are hibernating. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”. Matthew‬ ‭28:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We are called to go with those who needs us. If someone needs us to go one mile, then we should be willing to go twice as far as they need us. That is a pretty big task when you try to hibernate. “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” Matthew‬ ‭5:41‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We are never called to be inactive. They only time we are called to stay, is awake. We need to be alert for when God returns, we can not be awake and hibernate at the same time.

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew‬ ‭24:42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”Mark‬ ‭13:37‬ ‭ESV‬‬

As Christians we need to go into prayer. We need to go make disciples. We need to go walk alongside others that are in need. We can not go inactive. We need to stay awake and alert. Don’t hibernate, step out.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Enabled

Webster’s Dictionary defines enable as:

  • 1 a: to provide with the means or opportunity
  • b: to make possible, practical, or easy
  • c: to cause to operate
  • 2: to give legal power, capacity, or sanction to

The Lord enables us to step out if we will keep our eyes open to the opportunities that He places before us.

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So often, I find myself wanting to step out in a specific way and as a result I miss the opportunities that God places before me. I forget His ways are higher than mine. He has enabled me in so many ways. He provides me the means to step out and be His hands and feet; yet, I try to put Him in a box as to how I will allow Him to use me.

When we open our eyes to the opportunities before us, God makes it possible, even easy to step out for Him. But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

When I know that I am following the steps that God has placed before, regardless of the obstacle I face, He enables me a way to do it. I remember when I was running a nonprofit we had hit our maximum return in the venue where we held our an annual event. Alternative venues were not an option, because our community hosts a lot of fundraisers and basically reservations need to be made a year in advance. As we sat there brainstorming, I had a God idea. I say that because I threw out a scenario, and when we did the math, it worked out to the exact goal that we wanted to reach. God made it possible, practical and it was that easy.

God enables us by equipping us to operate in whatever He calls us to. Mark Batterson wrote “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” in his book  The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. If God has called us to it He will do what is necessary to cause us to be able to operate in a way that we can accomplish what He placed before us. Christ said that His followers would do greater work than He did. He has certainly qualified us for anything that He calls us to, and if we can do it on our own, we don’t have His vision yet.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

God enables us with His power to be His witnesses to the world around us. Much of what God calls us to step out into will require the power and authority that comes only from Him. We need His Spirit to empower us.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:7-9

God has enabled us to step out for Him. He provides us opportunities. He makes it possible for us to step out. He qualifies us and equips us to fulfill what He has called us to do. He also gives us the authority and power to be His witness. Whatever He brings us to, He will enable us to complete.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda. Prompt today was from Kate M at Five Minute Fridays.

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It Takes Patience

I love helping other people. It is an area where I have always felt called to step out. I even made a career of it. Compassion has always been a gift that God has given me, the ability to see most people through His eyes. Every now and then I will come across someone that challenges me to show compassion. I also know that if I have been working out of the flesh instead of through the Spirit that my compassion is less long suffering.

Here is the thing about truly helping people, it takes patience. It is easy to write a check and walk away. As someone who has partnered with a lot of nonprofits, I am thankful for those with the gift of giving. Funds are certainly needed to run any ministry.

It is also easy to be a one and done kind of ministry. There are always times where the need really is because of a crises situation, some may need help one time or for a short duration of time. During these times someone can provide access to immediate resources and know that the person will be back on their feet. Food ministries often feel this gap, or if someone has been off work and needs help with a bill, or a broken down vehicle. Again, these are much needed resources and ministries. There are so many people who live one crises away from homelessness or poverty.

I love walking alongside one and done ministries. I love being able to pour financially into a ministry that is doing great work. However, there is something so rewarding about walking along side someone in a journey that only God can navigate. It is not for the weak at heart and it takes patience that only comes from God. It is not something that you can step into lightly because God needs our words and actions to reflect Him when we climb into the pit with someone to help them out. That can sometimes be hard when you have your own issues going on, or if the person you are walking the along side has a lot of issues going on at once.

I won’t share some else’s story to drive home the point of patience, there are several people’s journey’s that quickly come time mind. Instead, I will pull from some different times in my own life where others had to walk along side me with patience. I am grateful that I have had people to step out and walk along side me in the darkest times of my life. I realize that despite all that was going on in my life, it is little compared to what some people face on a daily basis.

When I was twenty years old, my life was a mess. I will paint the short picture just to show the multiple factors at play in my life that I needed someone to walk with me through. I was a newly divorced mother of two children under five. I was also pregnant with my third child. My father was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was homeless. I attended church, but certainly did not love like a Christian the rest of the week. I did have a job, childcare, and transportation. My emotions were all over the place. I was running on empty 90% of time time.

During that time I had a huge learning curve because I was not familiar with welfare or most of the helping agencies in my community. I had to find housing on a budget that didn’t cover much. I learned about head start, childcare vouchers, HUD, food stamps, Medicaid. My homeless journey lasted six months. As I moved into housing, my father took a decline in health, he passed less than nine months from his diagnosis. I was at at point grieving the loss of my father, angry with God, when I delivered my third child. While I was on maternity leave, my mother broke both her ankles and was laid up at home unable to do anything for herself. I would go help take care of her during the day as my sister who lived with her was at work during the day. Looking back, I was also dealing with post-partum depression on top of the grief.

That was probably the longest year of my life. Most of it is a haze, even now; and I wasn’t even drinking or doing drugs during that time because of the pregnancy. I needed so much during that time, and usually one thing was dependent on the next thing. There was so much outside of my control, and to add depression on top of it, I know it was only God and the support He out around me during that time that I was able to make it out in one piece.

I know my patience was short during that time. I know I was not easy to be around. I was negative about everything. I was angry about everything. I was not motivated to do anything. I needed help, but I was not in a place mentally, emotionally or spiritually to want the help. There were several people that came along side me during that time. Some treated me with kid gloves. Others gave me tough love. I needed both. Some were there for a specific needs and made it clear the boundaries in which they could help me. It was helpful to know what I could expect and where their help would end.

Others made promises they did not keep. They did not have the patience to walk along side me through all that I was facing. They had a heart to help, but the obstacles I was facing were too much for them. Honestly, that can leave someone feeling like they will never get out of the situation they are in when an outsider can even handle to walk through it. Some people also started things and never followed up, it left me cleaning up additional messes that I didn’t need added to my stress. They didn’t count the cost before they made the commitment.

Boundaries and patience go hand in hand. When I am helping someone that has a lot going on, I set really clear boundaries. I want them to know the limitations to my availability and support in advance. It is for their benefit that I make it clear, because those boundaries will be tested. I want them to know the limits in advance because I don’t want to disappoint someone who is already struggling. I remember what that feels like, I don’t want to add to all the emotional chaos. I also know that without clear boundaries, when my patience gets tested I will want to walk away. I will get frustrated when those boundaries are tested, having the conversation in advance, I can just step back into the boundaries that were laid in advance and remind the person I am helping it is not about them, but about what I said I could do.

Stepping out to walk along side someone else take patience. It means counting the cost in advance and setting clear boundaries of how you are able to help and time frames if needed. Doing anything less, creates more hardship on the person that you are helping. Expectations can be very different if you are not clear about what someone can expect from you, there is bound to be disappointment. When we have the privilege of walking along side of someone through their journey, we represent Christ as we do it. It is important that we walk with patience. If we can’t minister with Christ’s patience, we might want to consider helping by writing the check to support a cause or helping with “one and done” ministries so that we don’t cause additional harm.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Be Persistent

I feel like stepping out successfully for God requires that we persistently seek Him. The three areas that I see we need to persistent seek Him in are 1) His presence 2) His Word 3) Prayer.

We can not accomplish anything that God desires for us on our own. If we could, we would have no reason to seek Him. We would think that we do not need Him. We have to stay connected to the vine in order to bear fruit.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  John 15:1-6

If you feel like you are stepping out, and you are not relying on Him, you might want to look at the fruit you are bearing in your endeavor. We may accomplish many things, even good things; without the fruit, they are done in vain.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3

I love this passage, because so often we look at the spiritual gifts that God has given others when what we should be looking for is the fruit. They go together, but I have seen men (And women) operate in the gifts of the Spirit and seen the fruit of their lives not match up with it. They gain nothing in stepping out. Love is one of the fruit of the Spirit that comes from abiding in Christ, and apart from it we are nothing, because God is love (I John 4:8).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Persistently seeking God, is not about going through the motions. It is about abiding with Him by persistently seeking His presence. We need to persistently invite Him into every area of our lives. He is a gentleman and will not go where He is not invited. That is why He stands at the door and knocks (Revelations 3:20), so we can invite Him in. So often we see this portrayed as Christ knocking for salvation, but this was a message or warning written to the Church of Laodicea, the lukewarm Church.

Developing a persistent habit of reading God’s word is important. If I am not seeking His presence while I am in it, there will be things for Him to draw on, but I will not get as much out of it. I need to invite His presence into that time before I ever begin. When I stop and invite His presence into my quiet time, the Word of God comes alive in my life. It speaks to me right where I am at, and often times prepares me for what I am about to face next.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8

We need to persistently meditate on the Word of God. And obey it. When we know God’s Word and persistently follow it, He will give us success. It may not look like money in the bank, or the world’s definition of success. It will look like meeting the needs of others right where they are. It will look like walking in peace and joy through difficult circumstances.

Prayer is another area where we need to be persistent. I can spend time talking to God, and see little results. Many times my prayers will become gripe sessions about whatever I am facing in the natural. Yes, God still listens, and He even still responds. He wants so much more out of our time together though. I need to pause and open my spiritual eyes and stop being focused on the natural. When I persistently pray to Him, I enter into His presence with worship, praise, adoration, thanksgiving. He inhabits my praise. His Spirit guides my prayer. I can pray with such passion for things that just a few minutes before where not even on my mind.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

Praying in the Spirit is also part of the the Armor of God that we should be persistent in putting on, and keeping on.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:11-18

Staying alert, be persistent, make supplication for all the saints. We need to persistently talk to God and lift of the needs of those around us, especially those in the body of Christ. It is one of the ways that we link arms to defeat the enemy. If God places someone on your heart, lift them up in prayer, even if it is just a “You know what’s going on with ‘so and so’ today. Lord surround them with your presence and meet whatever need they are facing today.” Let your brother or sister in Christ know that your praying for them too.

Pray persistently. If God places something on your heart, pray until you see the answer. Remember the story of the unjust judge and the widow that Jesus shared:

And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8

If it is something that the finished work of Christ on the cross has already supplied, praise Him and thank Him persistently until you see it happen. Stand in faith on the finished work of Christ and on the promises that have been given to us in the Word. Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 Once you can see it, it no longer takes faith. Don’t allow anything to cause you to doubt what Christ has already provided.

We serve a God who is faithful to us. He persistently pursues us, and we need to persistently pursue Him. We need to persistently seek His presence. We need to persistently mediate on His Word and obey it. We need to persistently pray in the Spirit, pray for others, and persistently stand on the promises He has given us and the finished work of the cross. We can always be confident to step out for Him when we persistently stay connected to Him.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Change my perception

One definition according to Oxford language of perception is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.

There is a saying “whether you think that you can, or think that you can’t, your right.” If you perceive that you can do something you are going to give it your best. Even if you fail, you are going to fail trying. If you think you can’t do something, you can quickly talk yourself out of even trying. So when we step out in faith it is important that we understand that God is going to meet us there.

How we perceive ourselves will impact our willingness to step out into God’s call on our life. Whether it be stepping out into a five-fold ministry role or stepping out to love our neighbor and be God’s hands and feet to those around us it is important that we understand whose we are and who we are in Him. Only then will we realize that if He calls us, He will equip us.

A lot of times, others will call on our gifts and abilities because they perceive them within us. Sometimes others provide a confirmation of what God has been speaking to us privately. He is using them to encourage us to step out. He has given them eyes to see us through His eyes. I have seen Him pursue me in this way often. I have that clear guidance from Him, but I hesitate because I don’t want it to be about me. He will send someone along who doesn’t know me well enough to know what He has been speaking to me privately. He wants to change my perception to see I have heard from Him.

Other times, I have had people call out things in me that I don’t perceive. A few times, it has been something that I had not considered before. Often these have come from people who know me more personally. Although, I have also had a couple prophets doing the same. Regardless of the source, I take it under advisement and bring it before God to see, is their perception right? Sometimes, God has used it to prepare me for the next place He is taking me. He has to open my eyes to change my perception of where He is taking me.

Other times, I have had people call out things that I walk in regularly, but never perceived as something God was using me in. There are things I do in my career, things that come so naturally to me, that I walk in regularly, but I have always perceived as part of my training. I had never considered how God could use these things, how He has. God had to change my perception of how He is using me.

Another way God has used others in my life, is when I couldn’t see the vision because it did not look like I expected it to. I have a God sized vision, but it took several people pointing out I was already walking in it. It doesn’t look like the final vision I have in my mind, so I couldn’t see it at all. God needed to change my perception to show me what He was already doing. He is still changing my perception of how that vision goes forward.

The most important thing that have changed my perception is the Word of God, the Bible. Learning who He says I am, created a change in my perception, and it is something that as I allow it to, changes my perception. Allowing the truth of who God says I am, the value He gives to me as my creator and what He says I can do, changes my perception. I spent several months journaling scriptures about who God says I am. If you need to allow the Word of God to change your perception of who you are, here are a few scriptures to start with, it is by no means exhaustive.

Stepping out for God, takes having a correct perception of who we are in Christ. God may use other people to confirm what He is speaking to us. He may need to change our perception of what He is already doing, or where He is about to take us. God can use many things to change our perception, but the most important is when we apply His Word to our lives. He can change our perception to match His perception of us.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Be careful who you resemble

I grew up in a church where only the person with the microphone prayed aloud. I had seen people open a service in prayer, or pray over a specific part of the service, but never participated or witnessed a corporate prayer meeting. I remember the first time I went to a corporate prayer meeting and saw people other than the pastors or elders pray.

I love to talk with God. I love the scriptures. I don’t mind public speaking. However, I was intimidated by this environment of public prayer. I wanted my prayers to resemble those of the other people in the groups. I thought that was what was needed for me to be part of this group.

I would listen to their prayers, and at times I would feel like there was something I should pray out. I would fight that prompting because I wasn’t sure so had the right words. I like to have written out what I am going to say or some type of notes because I get easily distracted. I also feel like I have to cover everything and get lost in my words.

At first, the leader would give us different passages to pray out. It gave us a place to focus. Our prayers were usually centered in those early days around unity in the body of Christ. It was good practice, but I still tried to have my prayers resemble the other people. I prayed out a lot of Psalms during those times.

Then there were times where we only had the two and one more for the prayer meeting. There was a lot of mentoring that happened during these times. The leader would just ask me to pray. For some reason in these small groups, I didn’t feel the pressure to be like someone else. There were times that what I prayed didn’t make sense to me, and she would finish praying it out. She fed off what God placed in the inside of me. I allowed my prayers to resemble the conversations I had regularly with God.

Despite the freedom I felt in the small group, when I was back in the large group it was a battle for me to step out and pray. I would feel the urgency to pray, but all my fears and insecurities would rise up. There was still this thought that my prayers needed to resemble the leaders or the other people that were praying. The leader would tell me to pray what was on my heart. When I would step out, there were times that others would then continue to pray off what I God had stirred up with me. I could have allowed that to encourage me, but I still fought the prompting of the Spirit.

When I finally got it through my thick head that my prayers were not meant to resemble anyone except Christ. God didn’t need my voice to resemble someone else’s. He did not mean for me to resemble another in what I prayed about corporately. God stirred up passions within me to pray out. He has guided my path and my experiences have given me a different perspective than others, not because my perspective is right or better, but because I can pray from that perspective. My corporate prayers should resemble my private prayers, not someone else’s. God has given me a unique voice, a unique perspective, and a unique passion. My voice, perspective and passion may be similar to another’s but they differ in that they resemble what God has placed inside of me. It is important that we be careful who we resemble because we are called to resemble Christ, not someone else.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Take Time to Recuperate

We live in a world that tells us that we have to go, go go. It is a works based mentality that says we are only successful if we are constantly busy doing something. There is this often spoken, sometimes silent message that our worth comes from how much we can accomplish. We feel compelled to drive ourselves to the brink of exhaustion in the name of progress. We often do this with little acknowledgement or appreciation for our efforts.

This tendency in our culture, reminds me of Marth and Mary. Martha was anxious and troubled about all that needed to be done. She wanted everything to be perfect for the Savior’s visit and the company that was with HIm. Mary was recuperating at the feet of Jesus. She needed what she could only get from His presence. She knew that everything else could wait until after His visit.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:38-42‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It was not that Jesus did not appreciate the act of service that Martha was providing. He needed Martha to understand that while service is important, what is needed most is presence. God’s presence has a way of melting everything else away, even if just for a short time.

The midweek service for me has always been a place to sit in His presence and allow the stress of the week to melt away. It didn’t matter how rushed I felt getting there, sitting in His presence made it all fade away. All the terrible things that I saw as a child welfare worker, therapist, social worker in the psychiatric unit and medical hospital, or working with homeless parents all faded away in His presence. I could take whatever stress I was under and lay it at His feet, just as Mary did. It might still be there after, but for a while I can lay the burden down for Him to hold. Usually, even if I had to pick it back up, it seemed easier to bare after it had been laid at His feet. Solutions would come that were not there before. I needed time to recuperate.

We are called to follow Jesus. When He was here on earth and walking in ministry, he took time to withdraw and have some alone time with God. His earthly body needed to recuperate from the demands of people and ministry.

“Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all”
‭‭
Matthew‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.” Matthew‬ ‭14:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Matthew‬ ‭15:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God is also there to help us recuperate when we have been stepping out for Him with success. He does not mean for us to carry anything alone. We recuperate by resting in Him. The world tried to tell us that taking time off or vacationing means that we are not being productive. We are called to step out and take on more special projects, more responsibilities, and give more time to work. There is this feeling of guilt for taking time off. People take a day off but still check in at work whether in person or through email. We find it hard to completely separate from our duties, whatever they may be. We know that work will pile-up if we are off or that we will have a mess to clean up that someone else created trying to help. But if Jesus needed to step away from ministry, how much more do we need to step away?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

So often we carry so much, out of control, guilt, actual responsibility and wear ourselves out trying to carry it alone. I vividly remember a dream, I was arguing with my pastor about why I could not leave my job. Looking back, I saw it was a warning from God, in the moment I gave all the excuses, the people needed me, the financial need for my family, the responsibilities that I alone could carry. A few months later I was fired. All my excuses went out the window. After I got over the initial sting of it, I was talking at church to one of the young ladies I had worked with before I was fired. She commented on how relaxed and peaceful I seemed. She recognized the stress that I had carried, even though before the firing I did not see it. I spent the next three months rest in God’s presence, soaking up His Word. He knew I needed to recuperate even if I did not recognize it.

Another time we need to recuperate is when we have stepped out and things don’t turn out as we expect. It might be that timing was off. It might be be missed the mark completely. Or it could be that the resources we needed were not at our disposal because someone else failed to step out timely.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews‬ ‭4:15-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Grace is God’s gift to us to help us recuperate when we step out and miss the mark. In our weakness, He is there to minister His strength. When we have been tempted and step off the path He has for us, His grace is there to gently nudge us back where we need to be. We can boldly come before Him, even when we have messed up, because His mercy and grace will meet us there.

We all need to take time to recuperate. When we feel like the wait of the world is on our shoulders, we need to stop and take time to rest at His feet. When we are going strong in ministry and things are going just right, we need to take time to rest in Him and let Him carry the load. When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, we need to approach His throne and receive His grace and mercy to minister to our weakness. Regardless of if things are good or bad, we need to follow in Christ’s footsteps and take time to recuperate in God’s presence.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Live Peaceable

Oxford Languages defines peaceable as inclined to avoid argument or violent conflict.

Sorry, that does not describe me. I am one of those people who face an argument head on. I will deescalate something that can turn violent. Up to that point, I have always been one to engage in the battle, if not the creator of it.

I prefer to live in peace. I grew up in a home where I saw explosions of anger from my mother and passive behaviors from my father. Neither ever wanted to talk about the real issues; if they did, their responses under stress didn’t reflect it. Yes, most of the time our home seemed peaceable. Yet, there was always something brewing under the surface. Like the pressure building under a geyser, it eventually erupted with a great explosion of verbal anger.

So that I could have the peace that followed, I realized I would rather have the geyser explode quickly. As a teenager and even younger, I was good at stepping out and getting the pressure to build quickly for the explosion. I would say things, rather hastily, without consideration of any consequences. I just needed the anger to surface so I could get to the peace. I even got to the point that my passive father exploded with rage once.

I carried that with me into marriage, and admit it had rather poor outcomes. My husband grew up in a different manner. He had a lot of pent up anger. I only knew how to unleash the beast, but not how to calm it. There was a lot of things thrown in anger in those earlier years. I was quick to pick the fight, and quick to play the “it’s your fault card” after. It was a hard habit to unlearn.

In part, I like a good argument. I like to hear all sides, present facts, and hopefully win the argument. My children and I banter. We will pick a side to argue even if we don’t agree with it, just to banter. My husband does not see the humor in this activity and quickly gets fed up with us and tells us to quit fighting. I never saw it as fighting, just a good debate in good fun.

However, it wasn’t fun when tempers flared in our home. I could cut people down with my words and make them feel liked chopped liver. My husbands temper was not something, at that time, he knew how to control. It was not a health environment for a marriage or a family.

One of the benefits of reading Scriptures, is that it is living, and it corrects. I try to change up the versions I read because sometimes I “know” the verse, but don’t let it transform me. My son and daughter-in-law bought me and ESV Bible one year for Christmas, this passage got my attention. I caused a course correction in my life because I realized I needed transforming.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭2:23-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It sure made me think about my “careless bantering.“. I admit I haven’t completely stopped, especially if I get with my son or certain friends. However I am much gentler with it. I don’t do it quite as much. It made me think about my methods of getting to the eruption.

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God really had to do a work in me. Instead of stepping out into an argument, He taught me to step out to Him in prayer. I literally would take my thought captive and take my argument to God, much like Job did. I would tell Him how I was feeling about the elephant in the room, especially with my husband. I wouldn’t walk on the eggshells, I would walk away from them and into the arms of the Father.

At first I still struggled with the argument in my mind. Obviously I was rehearsing to God what I wanted to say to my husband. I would play a record of the fight we were not having in my head. I had to learn to give it to God and stop meditating on it. I realized that it takes two to engage in a fight, and when I walked away, my husband deescalated on his own. The first time my husband came to me with a sincere apology without my nagging and guilt trip, I had to do a little praise dance to God. He did more in my five minutes of prayer, than my two hours of arguing ever did.

I still feel like there are issues that need to be confronted. There are talks that should be had. Personal talks and talks in the community and more global society. I don’t know how to walk in peace, if there is a giant elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. I can not walk on eggshells very long, before I start making noise. I am likely the one to step out and start the difficult conversation, even if it does not begin peaceably. I am still not someone to sit on a topic that needs to be discussed, but I have learned that there is a time for everything.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I don’t need to throw fuel on an already blazing fire. It is okay to wait until the coals are smoldering or completely out to have the discussion peaceably. I can speak the truth in love, but it’s okay to wait for a better time. I can guard my heart and mind in Christ until that time is right. I can use wisdom and still live peaceably.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” ‭‭James‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

God has called us to live in peace, but that does not equate to live peaceable. Living in peace does not mean that we should not have difficult conversations or stay silent in the face of injustice. Truth is meant to be spoken in love. We should use wisdom when stepping out into those conversations. We should seek God’s guidance and timing. We should guard our hearts and minds while waiting for the right time to have a difficult conversation. Only then will be be able to live in peace.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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Observant

Stepping out can be as easy as being observant to the role and circumstances around you. Taking notice of things that others may miss to meet the needs of another. You will be surprised the way that God will use you, if you just keep your eyes open to opportunities.

It might be observing a facial expression that doesn’t match the words everyone else is hearing. Going to the person privately you step out and ask if everything is okay. You end up listening to the hurts that someone would normally hide. God uses you to help someone release some of the burden they have been trying to carry alone. He uses you to carry another’s burden for a short time.

Being observant in your environment, taking notice of someone who is suppose to be present, but isn’t. Reaching out to someone who doesn’t show up when they normally would, calling them or stopping by to check on them. It can open doors to helping someone feel like they matter. Yes, it’s easy to just ask someone else where the person is. Maybe the person needs to know they are missed. Maybe God wants to use you to help someone know they belong and they are seen.

Being observant to nonverbal communication cues or tones when someone is coming or going. Reaching out to someone who seems a little more tired than normal, more rushed, or stressed. Stepping out to say “I notice.” God uses you to help someone realize they are not going through life alone. It may help you identify a tangible way that you can help that maybe would have otherwise went unseen.

Being observant of things that are important to another can be a reminder to someone that they are heard. It can be as simple as asking about something that some shared about before, following up on it. Or remembering a birthday with a quick call, card, or text. It might be mentioning an important anniversary, a job, transition, the death of a loved one, or other important date to see how they are doing or acknowledging the accomplishment. God may use you to remind someone they are important to Him also.

If your observant to the world around you, God will use you. It may be someone you know well. It could be someone you see regularly but don’t interact with. It could even be a complete stranger. If you looking God will show you His children. He will show you the hurting. He will show you someone in need. He will show you how you can be His hands and feet, if you’re observant.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda. Prompt today was from Kate M at Five Minute Fridays.

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The Experience for Stepping Out

Experience is the best teacher; it is also the best motivation for stepping out. There have been a lot of things that I have experienced in my life, and God has used every negative experience as an area for me to step out and help others. I am not someone who believes that God creates bad experiences to teach us lessons, but He does use them for our benefit. He orders our steps, but He doesn’t force us to take them.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

God pulls us out of the pity, out of miry clay. He doesn’t just pull us out, He is the Potter than can take the mess into a work of art. He takes all our experiences and turns them into something that can be used for His glory. He creates a safe place for us to stand and to display His beauty.

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. Psalm 40:2

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8

The other thing about experience is that sometimes our plans are not God’s plans. He will use what we give Him to work with, but if we will trust Him He will make our paths straight as we follow His directions.

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Ultimately, we are called to experience life and step out into the footsteps of Christ. We are called to do the things that He did. He will never ask us to step out in a way that He didn’t. Our mission will be people. Our purpose will be to point them to the Father. The expression will always be truth in love. It will line up with the Word of God.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:12-14

Our experiences prepare us for the call that God has on our life. He will pull us out of the miry clay and mold us into something to be used for His glory. We can let Him direct our paths or we can let Him correct us after. Our experiences with Him will bring glory to the Father and reflect the actions of Jesus.

This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.

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