DOING THE DIFFICULT: FACE YOUR FEARS

Some people love challenges. They’ll look at something new. Something hard. And they’ll take up the challenge of doing it just to get the satisfaction or thrill of knowing they can do something they’ve never done before. Something hard. Challenging. Exhilirating.

Just so you know, I am not that way at all. I am 1,000,000,000,000% a comfort-zone type of guy. I like doing the doable. That means it’s easy and doesn’t demand a whole lot of  my time, effort, or thinking. When it comes to what’s new, difficult, or challenging, you can generally count me out, folks. I’m not touching it with a ten-foot pole! 

I won’t do the difficult—not unless I’m forced to—because life already has too many difficulties and challenges. I don’t need to  add to them. I don’t need any more trials or challenges!  I’m heading into my golden years and I love to relax, take it easy, and do what I love doing most. Can you guess what that is? It’s studying  the Bible and writing. I just love spending time with the Lord because He talks to me a lot of times—not audibly, but in my spirit—and He tells me lots of really neat stuff. Stuff that I’ve just got to share with you. This blog is a perfect example of the stuff God gives me when I spend time with Him. I love Him. I love what I’m doing. But I dread doing the difficult.

Here’s a question for you. When the Lord asks you to do something difficult…no, strike that. When the Lord tells you to do something difficult, something you really don’t want to do, something you think is impossible, something that’s a Are you out of your mind? I can’t do that! type of thing; what do you do?

Just so you know, you’re not the only one who’s had to do something really really hard. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there and done that. The biblical characters weren’t any different from us. In fact, they were exactly like us. Human. I’d like to draw on their life’s experiences and, from beyond the grave, as it were, let them share with us what we’ve got to do when the Lord gives us our Mission I M possible. By God’s grace, we can do what God’s counting on us to do! Here’s how.

FACE YOUR FEARS AND CONQUER THEM

Most of us are familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau. Jacob was a supplanter (Genesis 27:36). He was crafty and cunning. A cheat. And definitely deceptive. He got Esau to sell him his birthright for a bowl of pottage (Genesis 25:29-34). Then he tricked his dad into giving him the blessing of the firstborn that was meant for Esau (Genesis 27). The guy definitely had a knack for ripping his brother off! Esau was so incensed by his brother’s trickery that he determined to kill him. That’s when Jacob fled to Haran where his mother was from.

Fast forward about forty years. Jacob has amassed a humongous family with humongous flocks of sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, and oxen, with gobs of maids and servants to boot.  Jacob, you could say, had it all. Except home. He was missing home.  

One day, the Lord spoke to Jacob. It’s time to head back home (Genesis 31:3). Jacob couldn’t have been more relieved! He’d been wanting to leave Haran for years. Now, with God’s permission and blessings, Jacob could finally leave.

Of course, the down side of going home was Jacob would eventually have to face the wrath of his brother.  Had Esau cooled off by now? Or was he still intent on killing Jacob? Sure, Jacob was going home. But the joy of going home carried with it the very real likelihood that he was going home for his own funeral. Jacob was plump scared—not only for his own life, but for the lives of his wives and children. He was one very, very scared fellow!

So what do you do when you’re faced with a difficult, impossible task and you’re plump scared to do it? I mean, your life’s at stake. You could die doing it. Is it worth doing something that’s gonna end up killing you? Is God really the One who’s talking to you? Or is the devil leading you into a death trap? A thousand doubts and questions race through your mind. And your fear looms ever larger, ever stronger, beckoning you to back off.

God spoke to Jacob. There was no way Jacob could doubt that. He had to obey God! So, first things first, he packed up his stuff, got his flocks and family together, and headed out of Haran. The lesson? WHEN GOD TELLS YOU TO DO SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE PLUMP SCARED TO DO, START DOING IT ONE STEP AT A TIME.  God will help you. You’ll still have your fears. Jacob left Haran a scaredy-cat. He didn’t wait for fear to go before he obeyed God. He headed home still wracked with fear. But he still headed home! Friends, when God tells you to do something that you’re scared to do, start doing it!

Next, don’t ignore your fears. Face them. Deal with them. Get God to help you overcome them.

Let me backtrack momentarily and tell you something that I forgot to tell you earlier. When God told Jacob to head home He also assured Jacob that He would go with him (Genesis 31:3). God would make the journey with Jacob. And, when it came time for Jacob to meet up with Esau, God would be with him. But notice that even with God’s word and assurance, Jacob was still scared! It’s like God’s Word doesn’t do anything to allay or rid us of our fears. So what do we do when we’re scared? Like Jacob, we keep walking home.

Jacob comes to a place where he sees an encampment of angels (Genesis 32:1-2). He’s not imagining anything. He sees the angels with his own eyes! That’s God’s way of assuring him that everything’s gonna be alright. The angels are watching out for him! Is Jacob scared now? Amazingly, like so many of us, he’s still scared! But he doesn’t turn back! He keeps heading home.

Brethren, when you’re wracked with fear, keep on obeying God. Sometimes, His words and His angels—the signs He gives us—aren’t doing the trick. If you’re still scared, don’t count yourself down and out. Jacob had every reason not to fear. But he was still afraid! He was, in every way, just like you and me!

Getting closer to home, Jacob decides to do a smart thing and send a delegation ahead of him to let Esau know that he was coming (Genesis 32:4-6). The tip-off doesn’t go over too good. Esau heads out with four-hundred of his men to meet up with Jacob. It looks like the makings of war. Now Jacob was really, really, really scared!

He decides to try and pacify his brother’s wrath. He sends Esau three separate droves of flocks—over 550 animals—that he hopes will soften  Esau’s heart and avert bloodshed (Genesis 32:13-20).

He spends the night alone and ends up wrestling with an angel (Genesis 32:24-30). Now you would think that an angel would’ve had Jacob pinned down within two seconds of the first round. But Jacob’s filled with fear and adrenaline: he’s so afraid of Esau that he’s intent on getting a blessing from God. What’s really amazing beyond belief is Jacob wins the match! He fought, as it were, with God. And won!

Now if you fought with an angel and won, you would think that any fear you had would just evaporate into thin air. You’d be so pumped that, in vanquishing an angel you would’ve vanquished your fear. But even after beating God, Jacob is still scared! Like Jacob, there are times when it seems like some fears just can’t be conquered no matter what!

Do you know what Jacob does? Even though he’s scared out of his wits, he continues walking towards his fear! Friends, you can’t shirk or run from your fears! You’ve got to face them. And when it comes time to stand face to face with your fear, trust your life and well-being into God’s hands. GOD GAVE YOU A PROMISE OF HIS PRESENCE AND PROTECTION. AND HE’LL MAKE GOOD ON THAT PROMISE NO MATTER HOW AFRAID YOU ARE AND NO MATTER HOW BAD IT LOOKS FOR YOU. YOU’VE JUST GOT TO TRUST GOD, FACE YOUR FARS, AND NOT RUN!

You know how the story ends. Jacob didn’t know how it would end exactly. But to his  welcome relief, Esau came running up to him, hugged him, and kissed him. There they stood, for the longest time, in each other’s arms, crying. The hurts of the past were healed and forgiven.

Jacob did the hardest thing he’d ever done. He faced his fear. And even though his fear never left him—it stayed with him right up the very end; God was with Jacob, He did a work of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in Esau’s heart; and this manifest work and miracle of God put an end to Jacob’s fear.

So what do you do when God tells you to do something that’s very very hard for you to do? DON’T LET FEAR STOP YOU FROM OBEYING GOD. Face your fear. Obey God. And  when you’re tempted to run or turn back, listen to Jacob: YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU’RE AFRAID TO DO! GOD WILL NEVER TELL YOU TO DO SOMETHING YOU CAN’T DO! God will help you! But He’ll help you only while you’re obeying Him. Believe it or not, you’ll eventually quit being afraid. The fear will leave you. But only when you successfully complete your Mission I M possible.

DOING THE DIFFICULT: BELIEVE AND OBEY

Some people love challenges. They’ll look at something new. Something hard. And they’ll take up the challenge of doing it just to get the satisfaction or thrill of knowing they can do something they’ve never done before. Something hard. Challenging. Exhilirating.

Just so you know, I am not that way at all. I am 1,000,000,000,000% a comfort-zone type of guy. I like doing the doable. That means it’s easy and doesn’t demand a whole lot of  my time, effort, or thinking. When it comes to what’s new, difficult, or challenging, you can generally count me out, folks. I’m not touching it with a ten-foot pole! 

I won’t do the difficult—not unless I’m forced to—because life already has too many difficulties and challenges. I don’t need to  add to them. I don’t need any more trials or challenges!  I’m heading into my golden years and I love to relax, take it easy, and do what I love doing most. Can you guess what that is? It’s studying  the Bible and writing. I just love spending time with the Lord because He talks to me a lot of times—not audibly, but in my spirit—and He tells me lots of really neat stuff. Stuff that I’ve just got to share with you. This blog is a perfect example of the stuff God gives me when I spend time with Him. I love Him. I love what I’m doing. But I dread doing the difficult.

Here’s a question for you. When the Lord asks you to do something difficult…no, strike that. When the Lord tells you to do something difficult, something you really don’t want to do, something you think is impossible, something that’s a Are you out of your mind? I can’t do that! type of thing; what do you do?

Just so you know, you’re not the only one who’s had to do some something really really hard. We’ve all been there and done that. The biblical characters weren’t any different from us. In fact, they were exactly like us: human. I’d like to draw on their life’s experiences and, from beyond the grave, as it were, let them share with us what we’ve got to do when the Lord gives us our Mission I M possible. By God’s grace, we can do what God’s counting on us to do! Here’s how.

BELIEVE AND OBEY 

Abraham, as you know, believed and waited on God for a long, long time to have a child by his beloved wife Sarah, who happened to be barren. After a span of twenty-five years, God finally came through and Isaac was born. (So you think you’re having to wait a long time for God to answer your prayer?)

Fast forward in time. Isaac is now a young man. No one knows for sure exactly how old he was at the time, but it’s likely that he was a teenager, even likelier that he was in his twenties or early thirties.

Anyhow, the Lord spoke to Abraham one evening and told him to go to the land of Moriah and offer his beloved son Isaac as a burnt offering on one of the mountains there (Genesis 22:1-2). It was a test, of course. But Abraham didn’t know that. As far as he was concerned, God told him to go to Moriah, kill his son, and burn him up as an offering to the Lord.

When God tells us to do something He doesn’t always tell us why. He doesn’t give us explanations. In Abraham’s case, He said just enough to worry me. I mean, if it was God talking to me, I would’ve preferred God said, Go to Moriah and take Isaac with you. I’ll let you know what I want you to do once you get there. Sure, that would puzzle me and get my curiosity going. But I wouldn’t  have had to wrestle with the agony of knowing that I’d be going there to kill my beloved son. What an awful trip that must have been for Abraham!

If I was God, I wouldn’t have told Abraham about the offering part. It would make believing and obeying me a very difficult thing to do. And I definitely want Abraham to believe and obey me. So I’m not gonna make it hard for him to do that. Hence, all I’m gonna tell him is, Go to Moriah and take Isaac with you. Just goes to show I don’t understand God sometimes. Maybe a lot of times. But, thank God, He’s God, I’m not, and He knows exactly what He’s doing!

Notice how Abraham responds to his Mission I M possible: he gets up the next morning, loads the firewood on a donkey, and, heavy-heartedly I’m sure, heads to Moriah with Isaac and a couple of his slaves in tow (Genesis 22:3). What’s so amazing, outstanding, and commendable to me is the guy obeyed the Lord!

If it was anyone of us, we would’ve had lots of reason not to obey. That couldn’t have been the Lord who told me to kill my son. It was a bad dream. It was the devil. God would never tell me to do anything like that. Murder is forbidden. It’s completely out of character for God to tell me to do something that’s sinful or unlawful. No way. It wasn’t God. I’m not doing it! 

Factor in the fact that you have only one son that you prayed and begged and waited for twenty-five years to have him, (okay, Abraham had another son by another woman, but as far as his beloved Sarah is concerned, Isaac is their only son), you love him more than life itself, and it’s a pretty done deal: you’re not gonna obey whoever it was who told you to kill your son.

Abraham obeyed the Lord because he knew the Lord’s voice and he believed the Lord. Abraham heard enough times from the Lord to know His voice.

When you’re walking close with the Lord, when you’re following close after the Shepherd, you’ll know His voice (John 10:4). YOU CAN’T KNOW GOD’S VOICE IF YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING HIM CLOSELY. IF HE’S A STRANGER TO YOU.

Lots of people don’t obey God because they don’t know His voice; they can’t tell if it’s really God who’s talking to them.

If God told you to do something, would you know that it was God talking to you? Do you recognize God’s voice? Abraham did.

Now when you hear from God you have a couple of choices to make: you either believe Him or not. And you either obey Him or not. Abraham obeyed because he believed it was God who spoke to him.

Notice that what God told Abraham to do really didn’t make sense to Abraham. God would never tell us to murder or kill our child. But the fact of the matter is, this is exactly what God told Abraham to do! Abraham knew the voice of God. He could not doubt that he’d heard from God.

And so, even though he didn’t understand why God told him to sacrifice his beloved son, even though he didn’t like the idea of doing it, even though he didn’t agree with the idea of killing his son; Abraham nevertheless obeyed God because God said it. God required it. And Abraham believed God. FOR A CHILD OF GOD, OBEDIENCE IS NEVER AN OPTION.

Notice the timing or immediacy of Abraham’s obedience: he obeyed God right away. When he woke up the next morning (Genesis 22:3).

Brethren, IF YOU WAIT TOO LONG TO OBEY GOD IT GETS A LOT HARDER TO OBEY HIM. THE LONGER YOU WAIT, THE LESS INCLINED YOU’LL BE TO OBEY GOD. When you procrastinate and postpone or delay your obedience you’re giving yourself and the devil time to talk you out of obedience. Obedience is hard enough without helping the devil make it even harder yet! PROCRASTINATION BREEDS DOUBT AND DISOBEDIENCE. So learn this much from Abraham: WHEN GOD TELLS YOU TO DO SOMETHING DO IT RIGHT AWAY! PROCRASTINATION TURNS A MISSION I M POSSIBLE INTO A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

Can you imagine how intolerably difficult it would be to kill your only beloved son? Talk about a crisis of faith and confidence! That would probably have killed my faith in God. No way would I ever kill my son! Would you? If you were Abraham, would you have obeyed God?

The redeeming thing here that, I believe, made it just a tad bit easier for Abraham to obey the Lord is what Abraham believed: he believed that even if he killed his beloved Isaac, God would raise him back to life and together they both would return back home to Beersheba (Hebrews 11:19 with Genesis 22:5).

Now keep in mind that, to this point in time, no one’s been raised back to life. No one’s come back from the grave or the dead. It’s never happened before. Yet, Abraham believed that something that’s never happened before would happen: God would raise Isaac back to life! It was this faith, I believe, that enabled Abraham to obey the Lord.

Of course, you know how the story ended. Abraham didn’t have to kill Isaac after all. Just seconds away from killing his son, God provided a ram and Abraham got to offer a ram instead of his son as a burnt offering to the Lord (Genesis 22:11-13).

So what’s the lesson here? If you’re God’s child, God at some point in time is gonna have you do something that’s intolerably, incomprehensibly difficult. When that time comes remember Abraham. None of what God told you to do may make sense. You may not like it. You may not agree with it. And you definitely don’t want to do it!

But if you know you’ve heard from God, then believe Him and obey Him. Right away! Understanding is nice, but you don’t have to understand everything before you believe. Knowing how it’ll all end would be a big help to get you to obey, but knowing how it’ll end isn’t a requirement for obedience. WE OBEY GOD BECAUSE HE’S GOD. WE BELIEVE HIM. THAT’S HOW THE MISSION I M POSSIBLE IS DONE.