The second article in the new series, "Advancing the Kingdom", comes from blogger Mike Print. You can visit his inspiring and informative blog here: http://mikegprint.wordpress.com "Advancing the Kingdom" is a series that hopefully will inspire all of us in considering more ways we can serve the poor and needy and advance the Kingdom of God among us. Each article will give accounts and insights of brothers and sisters who have answered God's call to step out of their comfort zones and serve the Body of Christ. Enjoy the article and be inspired!
I wonder whether you've ever found yourself in a situation where you've thought 'what on earth am I doing here, I am way out of my depth'? Such was my situation in 2005 as I woke in a homeless shelter in Cape Town. I had arrived the previous day with a team from the UK, having spent 3 days getting to know the team and being briefed on what we might face on our six-week trip. We were going out with African Inland Mission (AIM) International to work with St Stephens, Claremont, as they took care of homeless people in their area of Cape Town, South Africa. The year before I had become a Christian and been confirmed in the Church of England and had started attending a local church St Andrew's, Leyland. I felt strongly that I was being called to step out in faith and work for the good of others and I had been helped to find the right team by the Curate of my new church. I had never travelled on my own before and felt fairly nervous as I stepped onto the train from my home in the Northwest to meet up with the team for the first time in London. The team brief had gone well, the people in the team were great and the flight and welcome had been good.
Now, however, as I awoke in the homeless shelter the reality hit home, I had nothing to fall back on, no experience, no training, nothing. For the first time in my life I was forced to rely completely upon God. That morning I prayed like I'd never prayed before simply asking God to take care of me and equip me; 'You've brought me here God, I've been obedient now I need your help to get me through'!
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matt 14:25-29)
Like Peter I had stepped out in faith and like Peter as I now looked around me and saw the enormity of the situation I began to doubt.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matt 14:31-33)
It was at the point when I realised that I couldn't possibly do the work by myself and that just like with Peter, Jesus reached out and caught me. As I grew in my faith and in my confidence with God I was able to do many things I hadn't thought I could possibly do. We worked serving homeless people, going on walks to find those who didn't attend the shelter and inviting them back for soup lunch. I spent time with some of the guys who stayed in the shelter, some who had been drug and alcohol dependent and chatted and prayed with them. I led Bible studies, spoke at church services, played with street kids and even preached my first sermon and believe me none of these things could I have done in my own strength. I learnt over those six weeks that the only thing God asks of us is to trust Him when He calls and then He does the rest. I learnt I can't do what God asks me by myself, but then God doesn't ask us to, He asks us to do something and then equips us to do it. Sometimes God graciously allows us to feel completely lost and out of our depth so that we have no option but to trust Him and through that process God depends our relationship with Him. It's easy for all us to stay within our comfort zones whether we're in our home towns or overseas but I learnt that summer that if we dare to take God at His word and step out in faith we find a whole new world opens up.
So my question to you is this: will you step out in faith, choose to do something bold for God, something where you feel out of your depth and in a place where God alone can support you? Perhaps it will be in speaking to your friend about Christ, perhaps it will be in taking part in an activity or going on a mission trip? Whatever it is God is calling you to do but up 'til now you've shrunk back because it all seems too much. Perhaps I can encourage you to follow Peter out of the boat and trust God to equip you!