Thursday, August 16, 2012

Walking off Cliffs

In my office I have a quote by Davis Bunn that says something to the effect that faith is like stepping off a cliff and learning to fly. Since our move, it’s no longer hanging on the side of the file cabinet but stuffed in an unpacked box somewhere in that room. And I can’t find the quote online.

The picture in Scripture of a mother eagle pushing her babies out of the nest in order to teach them to fly is how God pushes us out of our comfort zones and into His plans and purposes for us. When we are in the freefall He bears us up on His wings and teaches us to fly. He equips us with all we need in order to fulfill His calling.

Still, in this year of major changes, I’m not surprised that the Lord has been slowly, inexorably, and lovingly moving me to the edge of a cliff. I’m not a fan of heights in the physical realm or the spiritual realm. But I have faced my fear in the physical realm when I rappelled—once—reminding my husband, who was the lead instructor for the teens involved in the activity, that I was the mother of his children. (They were quite young at the time.) He laughed and then gently coaxed me over the edge of the cliff with only a rope as my lifeline.

So taking that step of faith off the spiritual cliff into the unknown is very hard for me, even knowing that when I’ve done it before, God has never let me down. In both cases, it’s a matter of trust. A theme that repeats itself over and over in my life, in my writing.

The cliff that the Lord has been so patiently guiding me toward has long been my dream . . . and my greatest fear. Since I was young and learned to read, I have loved books—the whole process from writing them to publishing them to reading them. I longed for a job that would allow me to read, to write, to edit. Not something that’s pure fluff, though I’ve done my share of that.

I love books with substance. I want my fiction to bear a strong spiritual message based on Scripture. I want my nonfiction, including devotionals, to inspire others to dig more deeply into the Word of God to find answers to life’s problems. However, whenever I read books like the ones I dream of writing, the ugly thought that I could never accomplish it rears its ugly head.

The Lord has allowed me to have jobs where I can read. He’s even taken me out of the classroom (both elementary and high school) in order to edit on a full-time basis. And I love it. I’ve grown comfortable in that role of editor, reviewer, and judge of good writing.

Now He’s opening the doors to getting published, both in fiction and nonfiction. Not just short stories, articles, and devotionals, but books. Books!! He’s given me a designer for a new website—an author website. I’ve caught glimpses of a speaking/teaching ministry related to the books He wants me to write. Exciting. And scary.

He asked me to take the summer off from taking on new clients in editing. And He’s cut way back on the number of editing projects I’ve received from the publishers and individuals. I’ve had time to pray and to think about the next step He’s asking me to take—the one off the cliff of the known into the unknown. He’s showing me who I am, how He’s shaped me and molded me into the person He envisioned before the foundation of the world. Not that I’ve arrived by any means, there’s still so much shaping and pruning that needs to happen before He’s done with me.

It’s hard to see ourselves as God sees us. We can only see through the glass dimly. I’m so thankful He has surrounded me with not only one group but two groups of godly ladies who pray for me, who honestly confront me when necessary, and who are my cheerleaders and encouragers. In one group we’ve taken turns being the mirror for each other, revealing who we are in the Lord’s eyes. It’s a humbling exercise yet incredibly enabling and confirming for me.

What these ladies told me along with Scripture to back it up has pushed me even closer to the edge of the cliff. The pressure to step off, to accept the call to change my focus from all editing to taking the writing projects He’s laid on my heart and make it my priority, has increased over the past month. Through my devotional reading, reviewing and endorsing books, conversations with editors and writers at a conference, and the preaching of His Word, the Lord has made it very clear that the decision is now. I can no longer put it off nor try to push backward into the comfort of editing.

Last night at church, the Bible study was about Moses and the burning bush. In that encounter God gave Moses his “marching orders.” And in that He revealed Himself and how He would work through Moses. Thinking about the rest of the story and how Moses made up excuse after excuse as to why he wasn’t a good choice for the job, I realized I have been doing the same thing. I like my rut. I’m comfortable there. And frankly, the glimpses of the future He’s allowed me in this process terrifies me.

So this morning, I read the verses that the Lord gave me for this year: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).

He reminded me that I will not be alone, nor will I be in freefall when I step off the cliff. All year He’s given me many opportunities to “fix”—focus—my eyes on Jesus. In our move, in making new friends, in our church—He’s showing me His faithfulness, His trustworthiness. He isn’t going to let me step off without the proper gear or abilities through Him.

Then I read in A Taste of the Spirit by Karen Moore:

New developments bring a mixture of emotions that are both exciting and scary. You have to choose when a dream can come to life. Only you will know when you’re ready to jump in and take a leap of faith. Remember that you are not alone because God walks with you every moment of your life.
            He encourages you through His Spirit to act according to His will and purpose for you. He sends teachers, friends, and inspiration to keep you on the path. He also makes you aware of opportunities that will enable you to reach your goal.
            It’s your day to get started. Take that great idea or action that you’ve been holding on to for too long and give it wings. You’ll be glad you did.

Umm . . . it doesn’t get much clearer than that.

So today I’m taking the step off the cliff. Writing will take priority in my calling. The opportunities are there. I’m sure the enemy will continue to battle against me. But I’ve not been promised a life of ease. I have been promised that the Lord will never, ever leave me or forsake me. He will enable me to do all He equips me to do. He will fulfill His purposes in me. His Word continues to be my foundation; His Son is my cornerstone.

In spite of the glimpses I’ve had of the possibilities in my future, I don’t know what He has in store for me. But I do know He’s in control, and there’s no other place than in the center of His will that I’d rather be.

1 comment:

donnarobinson said...

Great post, Margie! I feel like I'm in the same place as you -- on the edge of the cliff. Thank the Lord we can trust Him!