RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
A new year is here, and it will bring with it a year’s worth of new challenges. I admit, I’m not a big fan of the word challenge because it usually involves pain (think squat challenge, no thank you). Yet challenges can be good, and it is essential to our growth that we learn how to rise to meet them.
In 2016, I faced one of those challenges. For years, my husband, Casey, asked me to preach weekly at one of our church services, and for years, I said no, absolutely not—not. a. chance. Though inwardly I really wanted to do it, I just couldn’t get past the fear—fear of the stage, fear of the commitment, fear of picking out an outfit every week. You name the fear, I had it, and it debilitated me from walking out God’s purposes in my life.
Finally, after days of tears and tantrums, I decided I could either accept the challenge or stay the same. I decided to accept. Upon making my decision, I can’t tell you how many times I recalled the story of Deborah and Jael in the book of Judges. Their bravery, their obedience to God, and their all-out tenacity prompted my faith to move forward. These two women rose to the occasion and did their part to conquer their enemy when their country was at war. Deborah took her place in leadership, when female leadership wasn’t cool, and Jael thrust a spike through the enemy’s head when he got comfortable in her tent.
We are in a continual war with our enemy for our calling. He would like nothing more than for us to stay seated and turn down the opportunities God puts before us, while he hijacks our dreams.
To help you rise to meet the challenges in 2017, here are a few things I’ve learned from the account of Deborah and Jael in the Bible:
- You have something to offer that only you can offer. I really had to fight the thought that people weren’t going to like my preaching style. Casey is witty, and try as I might, I’m not. As I worked on bringing my own style and gifting to the platform, I became better at preaching and my confidence grew. God didn’t choose Deborah and Jael because a man wouldn’t do the job. He chose them because they had something to offer that no one else could bring to the table. So do you. There will be a void in whatever area you stay seated in. Rise to the occasion and fill it.
- Take the opportunity. When opportunity knocks, open. the. door. Don’t procrastinate, make excuses, or stay trapped in fear. Do it, even if you’re scared and uncomfortable. You don’t have to be perfect, just available and brave enough to get up on your feet. Jael wasn’t a warrior, but she had a spike and used it effectively.
- Unite with others. I’m learning that I need others if I am to walk out my calling. When Deborah and Jael united in cause, victory came to the entire nation. If you are having a hard time rising to meet your challenges, find a friend and ask her to unite with you. We need each other and are better together.
My prayer for you is that you will rise to meet the new challenges in 2017. When opportunity presents itself, even if your ankles are shaking in fear, may you be like Deborah, who said in Judges 5:7, 31 (NIV): “I, Deborah, arose. . . . May all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.”