I usually don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. There are enough things I fail to do on a regular basis -- why would I add to the list? But, this past year I did. I made a big one: I resolved to give up fear. Fear of man, that is.
I decided that I was not going to allow the fear of man to influence me in any way. I would follow God wherever He led me, and I would do whatever He told me. I would not be intimidated into silence or complacency. I would be His to use however He saw fit regardless of the consequences.
Wish I could say that I have had a successful year ... that I have been God’s faithful servant, and that my resolution has become my reality. But, alas, I have not conquered my fear of man. That desire to please people is hard to shake. And it comes dressed up in so many disguises. But it has been an interesting year, and I've learned some important things:
- God honors my desire to please Him. Even when I fail and allow my fear to keep me from doing what I know I should, He is right there with me, cheering me on. He does not condemn my weakness or shame my pitiful efforts. He reminds me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, that He loves me still and that He is with me and for me.
- Sometimes God takes me to lonely places to teach me to be strong for Him. I don’t always like this. I like a good party with good girlfriends and lots of laughter. But, giving up my people-pleasing ways sometimes means I walk alone with Him.
- There is always more at stake than I can see. Choosing God over man (or myself) always involves something bigger. It's never just about the thing before me. It's usually about something more significant and someone else.
- Sometimes God lets me participate with Him in something really big and cool! I often remind myself that I have to get out of the boat to walk on water, which can be scary and seemingly crazy. But, I can trust God and walk on water or follow man and stay safely in the boat. I’d rather walk on water.
So, you may be asking and rightly so, what in the world does this have to do with neighborhood Bible studies? Well, EVERYTHING, maybe. We know that it's God's desire to reach the lost. We know that there are lost people all around us and in our neighborhoods. We know that we have been called to love our neighbors. And we know that sharing the Word of God with our neighbors is the most loving thing we can do.
What then keeps us from beginning a neighborhood Bible study? Is it the fear of man? The fear of rejection? The desire to be seen in a certain way? The desire to be accepted? The fear of not measuring up or of not being qualified? What keeps us from taking the next step? Perhaps it’s time to trust God and step out of the boat. Perhaps it’s time to make your own resolution. Perhaps it’s time to give up fear and follow God! And if you get to walk on water, you’ll never want to ride safely in the boat again ... I promise.
Lisa Hankins is a native Georgian and the leader of a Neighborhood Bible Study with a passion to help others find healing by trusting Christ with their brokenness. Lisa lives with her husband Richard and their two sons. When she is not shuttling her boys to various activities, she is busy serving as the sponsorship coordinator for an orphanage and school in Uganda called Hands of Love. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.