Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stepping Out In Faith

My wife and I don’t have children yet. However, once a week we have the privilege of meeting with 4 other couples, 2 of which have 16-month-old little girls, Emma and Anna. So each Tuesday night we get to enjoy the fun of having these little girls around us, without any of the stress. We get to experience all of the after dinner fun without any of the trauma of bath and bedtime. It’s a great situation for us.
A few weeks ago it was our turn to host dinner. We had our meal and bible study while the girls played patiently…as patient as you could expect 2 toddlers to be. As we were finishing up, Emma and Anna were naturally getting a little restless and were ready to break loose. Chris, Emma’s father, and I were sitting in the living room talking when Emma runs in the room and begins to climb on our ottoman. She slowly tiptoes from my side of the ottoman to the edge of the side where her father was sitting. Just as quick as she makes eye contact with Chris, she holds her arms to the sky and began to free fall in his direction. He quickly lunges forward and catches her, saving her from a nice little fall on our wooden floor. She begins to squeal, laughing like this was the most fun that a little girl could ever possibly have. I was shocked at first, but it quickly became apparent to me that it wasn’t even a thought in her little mind that he might not be there to catch her.
Then it hit me. God wants us to have that same kind of faith in Him. Just like Emma’s earthly father was there to catch her, our Heavenly father will be there to catch us. But He can only do so if we are willing to step out in faith.
We are all scared of uncertainty. For many of us, there is nothing more intimidating than the unknown. There are many times when God asks us to step out of our comfort zone, into a scary situation. He never asks us to do this alone; He is always going to be there to catch us.
This is often easier said than done. It’s easy to talk about changing jobs, but when it comes time to have that awkward conversation with our boss where we put in our 2-week notice, it gets a whole lot tougher. It’s easy to talk about going back to school, but when it’s time to start registering for classes, doing homework, and studying for tests, you can begin to doubt your decision. It’s easy to think about asking your girlfriend to marry you, but when it’s time to go ring shopping, it’s natural to start second-guessing yourself. These are the times when God is telling us to jump. And He would never lead us to something only to leave us alone to fall on our faces.
To Emma, stepping off of that ottoman is to walk out into uncertainty and step into the unknown. But she does know one thing; her father will be there to catch her. We need to show this same faith in our own lives. For us, it obviously isn’t going to be walking off of a table for our dad to catch us, but it might be starting a new job, having kids, or buying our first home. Taking these steps can be scary, but with our Father being there to catch us, what do we have to be afraid of?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Just Do Something

            We’ve all been in that awkward situation. The situation where we are faced with a friend who has just had received tragic news in one form or another. We listen to their tragic story, and then the dilemma arises…. What do we say? How do we react? What can we possibly do to make things better for them?
            I was recently faced with this very same dilemma. A good friend shared with me that he had gotten fired from his job. This friend is a man who has a wife and 2 small children to provide for.  This is a man who I respect and love greatly, a man who I would do anything to help in anyway I can.
            So what is the first thing that comes to my mind? The same thing that comes to most Southern Christian minds’ when faced with a situation like this. I think about telling him, “This must be God’s will for your life. If He closes one door, He will always open another.” I think these thoughts among many other Christian clichés. Thankfully, I hold back from interrupting his heartfelt concerns with my words of “brilliance.” My lack of knowing what to say gave him the greatest gift of all - the gift of being heard.
            As I drove away that afternoon I was reflecting on what I should have said, or how the conversation could have gone differently. Too often, we try to tell people going through hard times with what we think we are supposed to say. We rely on, “I’ll be praying for you,” when if we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit that we are likely to not even do that.
            I found myself texting him that evening after his family had been on my heart that day. As I texted the words “let me know if there is anything I can do for you,” I was struck with a realization. Why should he have to ask me to do something for him? Why not just do something? In the midst of his family’s crisis, and what I can only imagine is one of the most humbling experiences for a husband, why should I force him to be humbled even further by asking me for help? Why can’t I just give him my help? After all, isn’t this what I would want him to do for me?
            That evening my wife and I took his family a small treat after dinner. This was no strain on our budget or our time, nor was it a lifesaver for the family in need. But it did show them that there are people who love them and hopefully, even if only for a short time, brought some joy to their home.
These situations might be different for you. You may financially be in a position where you can pay your friend’s rent for a month until they get back on their feet. You may be able to let them borrow a car, or sleep on your couch. Or you may not be in a position to help them financially at all. And that’s ok. Most of the time all people need is a listening ear, a friend who they know is there for them during their storm. All they need is your shoulder to cry on. They need you to give them a loving embrace, and let them know that you care.
We are all faced with these situations. My challenge is this - don’t let flippantly chosen words fight the battle for you. Let your actions prevail. The next time you are faced with a friend going through a crisis, don’t tell them to let you know if there’s anything you can do - just do something.