Jesus strongly encouraged us to share the kingdom of God and His amazing love with everyone who would listen. He never promised fulfilling His commission would be easy. Sometimes hearing God clearly for my own life is challenging enough, let alone attempting to hear Him for others.
Every so often, when I step out I am wrong. I discover what I thought God was saying or doing, He was not. I feel foolish. If the risk involves sharing a misguided notion with someone I don’t know well or even at all, the situation becomes awkward, quickly. I don’t always know how to recover from the embarrassment and ease out of the conversation gracefully without adding to the discomfort.
After a few blunders recently, my confidence risked waning, but God used these fails to teach me some things about Him and how His kingdom operates. From the files of my misadventures, here are 5 lessons I learned as a fledgling revivalist on mission.
A Parked Car Doesn’t Go Anywhere
We can study the bible with enough vigor and stamina to make the pharisees of old jealous and their heads spin, but if we do not apply the truth, we gain little. The bible that we spend so much time reading is clear, we cannot call ourselves disciples of Christ if we only read and do not act.
Faith in Jesus is not meant to remain merely theologies or good ideas only. Faith is action.
Just as the body is dead without breath or a spirit, so also faith is dead without good works. ~ James 2:26
If we say we believe something and do not put what we say into action, then we don’t really believe. Jesus commissioned us to pick up where He was leaving off (Matthew 28:18-19 and Mark 16:15-20). He promised we would do greater works than He did (John 14:12-13). The expectation is obvious.
Jesus trained the disciples to take the truth they learned and to put the truth to work. He also asked them to teach others to do the same. Following Christ means we believe in Him as much as we do the same things He did while He walked the earth. Jesus consistently created spaces for the perfection of Heaven to beautifully invade the activity of our imperfect world. So must we.
You Won’t Know What You Don’t Try
Trying does not guarantee we will get it right. God is ok with us making mistakes. We don’t learn by just reading. We learn by doing. We must take what we read in the bible and put it into practice in order for it to become part of us. In the nature of implementing the things we are learning, we will mess up. We will fail.
What parent expects a child who is taking in solid food for the first time to swallow even a piece of cheese burger? What parent asks a child taking their first step to instantly run a marathon? The idea is absurd. Yet, we put similar expectations on ourselves when we attempt to step out with God into something new.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. ~ Psalm 37:23-24
Allow yourself to make mistakes. God gives you permission to fail. He understands we will never feel safe to try if we fear punishment for failure. Even Jesus understood the principle of freedom to fail when He taught the first disciples. He released them to tell everyone they met that the kingdom of God was at hand, but He didn’t just release them to talk about it. He gave them authority to display the kingdom. He released them knowing they would not always do it perfectly.
Even the Disciples Screwed Up Sometimes
Guess what? The disciples made mistakes. They tried to cast out demons, and it didn’t always work (Matthew 17:19). They were encouraged to miraculously feed the hungry, but all they could see was what they lacked (Matthew 14:16). They were invited to walk above life’s limitation like Jesus, but fear and doubt sunk them (Matthew 14:30-31).
Jesus did not give up on them. He believed in them when they did not. He continued to give them opportunities to exercise their faith in Him. The disciples who risked and braved eventually saw God’s power displayed through them. God impacted the lives of the people around the disciples in marvelous ways.
He will do the same for us, but we must jump out of the boat to reveal where growth is still needed. Had Peter not jumped out of the boat he would not know where doubt still hung on. He learned where he still questioned his capabilities in Christ, but all the rest of the disciples who stayed back in the boat did not.
The great benefit of messing up is discovering where we still need to learn. A good teacher uses quizzes and tests to show the student what they know and what needs further instruction. God is the best teacher. He will utilize every moment we step out in activating our faith to show us what we actually learned. He will also reveal what requires more understanding.
No Growth In Safety
Spouting off or memorizing scripture is not the full picture of Christ’s activity on the earth. Neither is just talking to people about God. Simply loving others or feeding the poor is not following Jesus’ lead completely. Healing the sick, delivering people from oppressive spirits, or raising the dead in and of itself is not fully living like Jesus.
To emulate Christ means we act like Him in all His ways, not just the few we are comfortable trying or doing. True disciples will step into the same kingdom activities Jesus engaged in. Principles of God were never meant to exist separate or void from the movement of God.
The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. ~ 1 John 2:6
If we only brave the principles of God and forfeit the movement of God, we never experience the fullness of God. Unfortunately the people around us will see a warped and uninviting view of God and His ways too. The gospel becomes a lot of talk without power to back the ideas up. It’s like offering a nicely wrapped, but empty gift box. We would never give a dinner guest delicious looking but stale tasting bread.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t just keep talking and not acting. I can no longer keep discussing Jesus with people without offering to bring His power and deliverance into their lives. I want the portrait of Christ that God is painting through my life to present a vibrant picture of His son.
God Isn’t Looking For Trust
When God asks us to believe and obey His voice, it isn’t because He wants us to prove our devotion. Abraham wasn’t asked to sacrifice Isaac because God needed to know Abraham would obey. God knows everything, even before it happens. He already knew Abraham would give up the one thing he always desired for God.
Why then would God ask Abraham to kill Isaac if God already knew he would? God doesn’t need us to show Him we will trust and obey, but He knows we need to know we will. Sometimes God will tell us something just so we can say yes. Sometimes He asks us to step out when He has no intention of doing the thing He asked us to do.
God isn’t using His omniscience for trickery or cruelty. He is strengthening our resolve. He is giving our hearts a chance to see we will go when He calls. God is helping us experience the joy in building trust. We need to know we will say yes no matter the result or outcome.
Share Your Story
Which lesson have you walked out with God already? What did God teach you through a failure in hearing Him or attempting to share His love with others? Are there any steps above you are currently walking out or have yet to embark on with God? I would love to hear what God has been teaching you. Please share.