We often say we want God’s plan for our life. God’s best for us. God’s purpose for us. God’s blessing for us.
But when it comes to actually discerning His will, things can feel a little blurry.
We easily can fall into the trap of overthinking God’s plan. Feeling confidence one day about a new direction, then complete confusion the next. Asking countless questions without finding peace in answers. Being so hard on ourselves that we think we’re not good enough for what God has for us.
Whether we realize it or not, we may be approaching His will wrongly. Making it an option over a command. Making it a complicated mystery over a practical lifestyle. Making it about fearing irreversible mistakes over embracing growth and truth.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn how to understand and follow God’s path for our lives in the Trust Series. This three-part blog series will cover:
- Having the courage to GO when God says, “Yes” (Part One)
- Discerning God’s true gifts when they appear (Part Two)
- Examining our lives to know whether we’re walking in obedience (Part Three)
Today, in Part One, we’re tackling the fear of taking steps of faith. This part is for those with the willing heart. Those who are ready for obedience and who are walking in it, ready for God to move.
In this case, you may have been seeking God’s guidance in a specific area for a while. You have been seeking wisdom about a situation that’s relational, professional, or personal–and even may have a clue about what God’s leading you to do. However, there’s a little something called fear that’s holding you back.
What if I’m wrong? What if this isn’t the right person/opportunity/job/school/location for me? What if I’m not ready? What if I ruin everything? What if I’m not hearing God’s voice correctly?
These voices of doubt freeze us in place. Instead of taking steps of faith, we keep hitting pause without giving God a chance to work. We remain stagnant in a season that’s actually ready to change.
If this sounds familiar to you, keep reading for practical steps on stopping fear in its tracks and moving forward. It’s time to stop living in regret and start living in your God-given freedom!
1. Take a Step into Perspective
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Proverbs 11:2 NIV).
In order to have peace in seeking direction, we need to take ourselves out of the way.
We sometimes might be so fixated on our plans that we make no room for God. It becomes: My way over God’s own. My outcome over any other possibilities.
Other times, we become fixated on what others may think of us. We try to put our best foot forward. We look to impress or show off to others, never letting them see us sweat.
Here’s the truth: God’s plan has nothing to do with “looking good” or achieving your “best case scenario.” Think about this: What happens when God’s direction leads us into sacrificing our appearance or causes our reputation to be at stake?
God will lead you to His goodness. Always. So, if we want to fully experience His goodness, we must stop worrying about whether we can trust Him. God is faithful–in every single scenario, whether the situation looks good or bad.
Consider Jesus who humbled Himself to die on the cross for our sins. This was King of kings, Lord of lords, a man who knew no sin who became sin for us. That did not look or feel good.
In Matthew 16, Jesus foretells His death on the cross:
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (v. 21).
Peter responds in verse 22: “‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’” Peter couldn’t understand this. Jesus is the Savior, all-powerful. Why would He be subject to death?
What Peter doesn’t understand is Jesus’ perspective. Jesus understands who His Father is and what He will do. He knows God is loving and has the situation under control. Once again, Jesus tells of his suffering and death in verse 21, but He also reveals the biggest miracle in history to come: that He will rise again (–and save mankind from sin and death!)
If God is moving you to a new direction that you don’t understand, trust His leading. Thankfully, you have a Savior who went before you and made a sacrifice you will never have to make.
However, Jesus’ submission to God is what we’re called to follow. That’s why He responds to Peter with an instruction, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24).
Denying yourself means it’s not about you anymore. And that’s a good thing! You no longer have to rely on your own intelligence, strength, and guidance. Instead, you’re relying on the power of the same God who could raise a man from the dead.
Letting go of pride is vital in this process. Jesus continues this teaching moment saying, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (v. 25).
If you keep trying to save yourself or trying to save face, you’re not going to break free from fear. You’ll hold onto every situation for dear life–even situations God has not called you to.
Refocus your eyes on the Lord, not yourself. If you’ve been praying and now feel His call to the next step, trust Him. Whether God’s answer is a “yes” or “no,” it should always be a “yes” to Him.
2. Take a Step into Community
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice (Proverbs 12:15 NIV).
After fixing your perspective on desiring God’s will above your own, you may realize this important truth: I’m not always right.
You and me, both! (And the rest of the world.) You’ve got plenty of company, my friend. Uncertainty and confusion is a human thing. But the God of all wisdom is present.
Fear has a way of shutting our mouths. When we are afraid of obedience, we tend to hide within ourselves. We may feel ashamed of asking for help, scared of hearing the truth from someone, or feel too lazy to even make the effort.
However, speaking up and seeking community is 100% needed, especially when making important life decisions.
God made you for community, and He often moves within community settings. The book of Acts is filled with powerful examples of the Holy Spirit moving within disciples, giving wisdom, strength, and divine encounters. And they needed all the help they could get. They had a big job of building the church and leading others to Christ. It wasn’t something any disciple (not even Paul)–no matter how wise–could do alone.
Seeking the right community is key. You shouldn’t always run to a fellow peer or the internet when you need advice. Seek out those who are like-minded (in terms of godly values), know you well, have a solid walk with the Lord, have more experience than you (especially in the area you need wisdom on), and who have a consistent character you can trust.
It’s wise to first seek out strong relationships in your church with leadership and individuals who can play these roles in your life. God can also direct you to people in other ways and other places.
Needing counsel in your life doesn’t make you weak. Proverbs 11:14 states, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (NKJV).
There’s a reason why God says He is present where two or more are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20). There’s a reason why it’s a blessing when we dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).
Miracles happen in trusted community. Be open minded to insight. Others can confirm what God has already confirmed to you, and they can point out signs that you’ve ignored. They can also pray for you, encourage you, and hold you accountable as you obey God’s leading and seek out His will!
3. Take a Step into Commitment
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV).
You don’t need to know the outcome to obey. You just need to obey.
1 Corinthians 15:58 is a reminder that whatever you do for the Lord is not in vain. The verse also shows the power of commitment:
Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully.
Commitment is the action step. It doesn’t mean, Uh-oh, there’s no turning back now! Instead, it means, I’m taking the steps to see God move in my life!
Fear makes us constantly change our mind. It makes us waver, hindering us from fully committing to God’s plan. And if we’re not fully committed, we will not see or understand the ultimate purpose behind God’s direction.
James 1 doesn’t hold back when it comes to the dangers of wavering:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (v. 5-8 ESV)
If you sit in doubt, you’ll find it nearly impossible to be still. When God says one thing, you question it. When God confirms something, you need another confirmation. Instead of obedience, you linger, and then fear arises again. Then you need another confirmation. The cycle continues.
Of course, God understands our fears. But there’s a point when we must set our minds to obey, and keep our minds set.
There’s no promise that you won’t have times of doubt when following God’s plan. Likely, you’ll have your moments. Nevertheless, you can effectively use doubt by taking action. Put your uncertainty in God’s hands, and keep going.
Obedience is never wasted. The more you practice taking steps of faith, the more you will see how God works in your life. You don’t need to compare your story to anyone else’s. He deals with everyone uniquely, because everyone is unique. God will lead you differently than He leads me.
Stop being afraid of messing up God’s plan. He is way more powerful than that!
He’s the God who corrects, heals, restores, renews, raises up, directs, and convicts. He knows your weakness and patterns. And yet He still desires to and can use the imperfect you.
Using these steps of action, you can set your mind on saying, “Yes, Lord” and stop saying, “Wait.” You’re not on this journey alone. God’s unique purpose for you is constantly unraveling. The more you step forward, the more He lights the way.
In Part Two of the Trust Series, we’ll be looking closer into discerning whether a situation is God-given or a major distraction.
In the meanwhile,
Before you take your step of action, reflect on these questions below. Prayerfully consider each question, and examine your perspective, community, and desires involved in your next step.
Questions to Reflect on:
- Are there any sin issues (thoughts, habits, behaviors) in my life that I need to take care of?
- Are there areas in my life where I’m discontent?
- How would I feel if God said “no” or “wait”?
- What’s the hardest thing in my life for me to submit fully to God? What’s holding me back?
- Are there people in my trusted community who agree with my decision. Why do they feel that way?
- Are there people in my trusted community who disagree with my decision. Why do they feel that way?
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