be strong and of good courage

 I was outside shoveling snow the other day, and in the silence of winter, a strange sound caught my attention. It was a  single song bird bravely announcing its presence. That song was a welcome reminder that spring is indeed coming someday! And the Lord used that little bird to give me hope that change is coming in my life, as well.  As I look at the future with all kinds of new possibilities on the horizon for me, however, I wonder if I am really ready for change. We may not like our circumstances, but at least we know what to expect! Even our discomfort can become comfortable because we can feel somewhat in control.


Change on the other hand, requires faith.  So as I ponder the possibility of change and growth in my life, I wonder if it is safer to stay in my little boat rather than  to step out onto the waters of faith.    And yet, as I look back through my prayer journals, I see prayers that I poured out to God over months and even years. And I hear God saying, why are you surprised at the changes that are coming?  Haven't you prayed for these things?  


The truth is,  it takes faith to pray, but it also takes faith to step out and receive the answer to  prayer.  Many times  I prayed for things  and then found out that I had to do something by faith to receive the answer. For years, I prayed that the Lord would open a door for me to do ministry in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I actually wrote those words down on a little card which I carried in my pocket for three years! Every day I would get the card out and look at it, and speak the words of my prayer. and Every day, the card got smaller and smaller!


And then one day in 2006, the door opened, and I was asked to come to England for the first time to do ministry.  I spent days packing and couldn't sleep the night before my flight. I was terrified, and the Lord reminded me of the words he spoke to Joshua before he led the Israelites across the river Jordan into the promised land…in Joshua 1:9 He said, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”          


God said that he had prepared me for this moment, that He would go with me, and that everything I did would be by His power alone.  So I crossed the ocean that first time, with a backpack and a violin on my back dragging a seventy pound keyboard behind me.  I went to strange churches in a beautiful land that I had never seen, and the most amazing things happened! Heaven was poured out wherever I went. On that first concert tour, a girl who was severely hearing impaired was completely healed. Others were spontaneously convicted by the Holy Spirit as I sang and spoke.  I was overwhelmed watching the Lord do miraculous things knowing I was completely untrained for ministry. and I knew that just like Joshua, God was with me wherever I went! 


I could have shrunk back and not stepped into my destiny. I remember being so terrified that God wouldn't show up and  that I would make a fool of myself! It would have been so much safer to just stay home and not take that risk. 

But I took the risk and walked into the answer to the prayer I had prayed for so long, and I am very glad that I did. 


Now, here I am facing new Jordan rivers, and  facing the same fears about crossing them. Will God still be with me? How do I know this is His will? What if I am wrong?  But there are rivers and new lands in front of  me, and I know that I will always regret it if I don't step out and try! 


I wonder if you can relate to my story about England. Perhaps you have a dream like I did and need to write that dream down and start praying and asking God for the faith to see it come to pass. Or perhaps, like me, the dream is coming to pass and now you're not sure if you have the courage to step into it!   


Well, I want to encourage you to be strong and of good courage. Change can be scary, but you  will never fulfill your God given  destiny  without taking a risk!   Nothing significant is ever done in the kingdom of God by human strength or ability, and God will intentionally push you into the realm of faith so that He is doing the work, not you. 


Ephesians 3:20 says that he is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, God has a great work for you to do, but he needs you to step out and trust Him for that work to be done. Spring is coming, change is coming, and it will be good if we have courage to embrace it and step into it! If you feel unqualified for a challenge that is before you,  that's probably exactly the direction God wants you to go. You will be amazed at how He will use you to do what you could never do on your own strength.  


 Father thank you for placing your dreams inside of our hearts.  Help us to recognize those dreams. Help us  to have the perseverance to pray for those dreams to come to pass, and the courage to step into them!  Thank you for the miracles that you will do through each of us as we learn to live by your strength rather than our own. In Jesus name, amen.