FaithFocused Living

Stepping Out – Give the Gift of Hope this Holiday Season

I had just finished leading a group workout session and was frantically making my way back to my room to squeeze in a quick shower before the evening session began.

I didn’t make it.  By the time I got to my room, I had less than ten minutes to shower, so I did the next best thing. I borrowed my friends perfume, sprayed myself from head to toe, and threw on a jacket to cover my sweaty tank.

I scrambled to take my seat in the conference room.  Same seats as the morning, which for me meant first row, directly in front of the stage.  Usually, I love being in the middle of the action, but in my post-workout condition I was feeling a little less comfortable with my seat selection.

Steph Fink, a Christian speaker, author, and creator of Encouraged in Heart, came out to deliver her message, GO is in the Gospel, rooted in this scripture passage from the book of Matthew.

Therefore go 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

I gleaned the following from Steph’s powerful message:

When you feel prompted, do it.  Risk looking foolish for the opportunity to come to know Jesus in a more powerful and intimate way because you decided to step outside your comfort zone.

At the end of her message, the worship team began to sing O Come to The Altar by Elevation Worship.

That’s when it happened.

Go up there.

My first instinct was to talk myself out of it.  Surely, you can’t be talking to me, God.  I’m not dressed appropriately, I haven’t showered, and besides, it’s not even a real altar.  This is a conference room, not a chur….

Go up there.

This time, my heart was pounding in my chest.  The lyrics of the song faded, drowned out by the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears.  I glanced to my left, then to my right.  They must hear it too.  But they were just looking forward, singing praises to the Lord.

Maybe I’ll just tiptoe over to the council member and ask her if it would be okay if I walked up…

But before I could finish my thought, a warmth spread throughout my entire body.  It felt almost like motion sickness, only I was standing completely still.  God didn’t want me to stop moving, He wanted me to get moving.

Steph’s words came flooding back to me…

“When we worry about looking foolish, that’s self-worship, not God-worship.”

I was reminded of Galatians 1:10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God…”

Go up there.

I looked to my friend on my right again.  This time she caught my glance and sensed my discomfort.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I think I need to go up there…

She nodded in understanding and gently replied, “You should go.”

So, in my sweaty yoga pants and dirty sneakers, I made my way to the front of the room, knelt down at the stage, and prayed.  The next thing I felt was a friend’s hand on my back, my body trembling, but my mind at peace.  I knew this was exactly where God wanted me to be.

It wasn’t until the end of the next song that I looked up and was moved to tears. The stage was full of women kneeling in God’s presence.  It didn’t matter that we weren’t in a church or that this wasn’t an altar – we can lay our problems at His feet and our life in His hands anywhere.

It’s human nature to doubt, to question whether what we feel is from God or whether God is real in the first place, but I have no doubt that what I felt that day was real and that it came from something much bigger and greater than myself.  It is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.


STEP OUT OF THE BOAT

There are numerous Biblical examples of stepping out.  We’re all familiar with the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), and Moses and the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  Some less commonly known risk-takers include the sick woman who traveled 30 miles to touch Jesus’ cloak, risking public humiliation and potential punishment for the opportunity to be healed and profess her faith to the crowd (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:43-48).  Mary Magdalene, a sinful and socially unacceptable woman, risked further shame and embarrassment for the opportunity to wash Jesus’ feet in the Pharisee’s home, humble herself in the Lord’s presence, and have her sins forgiven (Luke 7:36-50).  In each case, God delivered, their faith was strengthened, and they were rewarded for their obedience.

One of the most widely recognized examples of stepping out in faith occurs in Matthew 14:22-36 when Jesus calls to Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water.  I want to call your attention to what happens after Peter arrives safely in the boat.

Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:33

When we step out of the boat, it doesn’t just impact our faith, it impacts others.  When we step out in faith, we lead others to come to know Jesus in a more powerful and intimate way.


GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE

At first, my God-moment at the retreat felt too intimate to share, but then I realized that in not sharing it I was robbing Him of the glory and others of the opportunity to witness God actively working in our lives.

This past week, I talked with two other women who attended the retreat.   One shared how seeing others step out gives her the courage to follow.  In her words, “When I see others do it before me, it is like a nudge from God saying if they can do it, you can do it too.”  It has helped her let go of fear of judgement and follow the urge to go up and recommit her life to God.

Another friend shared that she went into the weekend with a hardened heart and low expectations.  Her heart softened as she heard other women share their testimonies.  Meeting other women who had gone through similar challenges and who continued to persevere because of their faith gave her hope that she could do it too.

This holiday season, choose to give the gift of hope by stepping out.  Be willing to get uncomfortable and put something on the line for the opportunity to change your life and someone else’s.


HERE ARE TWO WAYS WE CAN GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE TO OTHERS:

1. LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

Choose to love when it’s not easy or convenient.  Be willing to humble yourself to exalt Jesus.  Go first when it would be easier to wait for the other person.  Whether it’s going up to the altar, extending an invitation, or offering an apology, when we step out we encourage others to step up.

Stepping out will look different for everyone, so I encourage you to pray about what that looks like for you .  We are not all called to do the same thing, but we are all called to do something.  How can you use the unique talents and abilities God has blessed you with to bless others and bring Him glory?

We live out God’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” when we allow our life to be a reflection of Jesus and then we take it one step further.  We point back to Him.

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

How can we point back to Jesus without coming off as “preachy”?

Deliver a plate of Christmas cookies with an encouraging scripture verse attached.  Invite someone who has nowhere to go for the holidays into your home and say a prayer before the meal.  When someone thanks you for providing for them simply say that you want to share the blessings God has given you with others.  Whatever it looks like for you, give Him the glory.  God is our source of hope so in pointing others to Him, we give the gift of hope to someone else.


2. SHARE YOUR STORY.

Whether it’s with a close friend, a small group, or more publicly if you feel led to do so, there is tremendous power in sharing our story. If God has changed your life, He wants to use your story to change someone else’s life.

It is for this reason that I started a Christian Testimonies page on my website, I have shared my story, and I encourage others to do the same.  Stories of breaking free from insecurity, letting go, and overcoming loss.  Stories of finding true fulfillment, finding God amidst the busyness of life, and, ultimately, of finding hope.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.”  Psalm 62:5 NLT

Sharing our story takes courage, but it is when we trust God and step outside our comfort zone that we grow and encourage others to grow.   This is “GO is in the Gospel” in action.


FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

Last night I was searching for an image to accompany this blog post.  A Google search for images related to “stepping out” produced 152 million results.

I chose one of footprints in the sand because it reminded me of the Footprints Poem that used to hang in my apartment after college.  Here is an excerpt from the poem:

He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.  This really bothered Him and He questioned the Lord about it.

Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way.  But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints.  I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.

The Lord replied, my precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you!  During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

This morning, I received an email from a friend who has been going through a difficult time, yet her faith has remained strong.  She reached out to me because she wanted to step out and share her story on my blog.  I asked her for the key message she wanted others to take away from it.

Her exact words were, I guess the message I want to get through is even through the hard things He was still there.  He never left.  Even when I thought He had forgotten me, He was still carrying me.  One set of footprints, right?  Does that makes sense?”

Yes, friend, it makes perfect sense.


NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

We may not all be called to play quarterback, but we are all part of the same team, striving to build God’s kingdom.  We can’t “go and be disciples” by sitting on the sidelines – we need to get in the game!

Today I challenge you to pray about what “stepping out” looks like for you (click here to download, A Prayer for Stepping Out).  How can you let go of control to trust in God’s plan?  Sacrifice comfort for growth?  Conquer your fears with faith?

Be willing to take a risk for the opportunity to stretch your faith, strengthen your character, and give someone the gift of hope.

Share your thoughts below or contact me if you’re interested in providing encouragement and hope through sharing your story on my From Broken to Beautiful Transformations page.  Thank you!


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Jen Roland is a Holistic Health & Fitness Coach, speaker, and writer.  Her blog, Fueled Fit Focused, was inspired by her passion for health, her faith, and her desire to help women move from frazzled to focused.  Jen helps women find balance and freedom with food, fitness, and faith through family-friendly nutrition, simple fitness, and a deeper understanding of how God’s Word applies to their overall health and well-being.  She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.   Visit her website for more information on her coaching programs and additional tips to live a healthy, focused life.

5 thoughts on “Stepping Out – Give the Gift of Hope this Holiday Season

  1. Jen – I have questioned God so many times since Robert died on why He would take him away from me. I still don’t understand but have to believe that someday I will find out what God has in store for me next. I am not good at stepping out and will be praying and thinking about this since you brought it to the forefront of my mind. Great post!

    1. Sandy, just in sharing this you are stepping out, so thank you for taking a risk and being vulnerable. There are many things we don’t understand and won’t know the answer to this side of Heaven, but I do believe that He has a plan and a purpose for everything. It is normal to question and have doubts – faith wouldn’t be faith without all those unanswered questions. In the midst of it all, we can keep seeking God, confessing those feelings and our sins to Him, and praying that He would come into our life and make Himself real to us. I’ll be praying for you too 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amanda. I hope it encouraged and challenged you to step out of your comfort zone, choose faith over fear, and give others the gift of hope. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

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