What I Discovered Waiting Beyond My "Safe" Faith
By Laurie Davies
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Laurie's Story
I like to play it safe. Keep my hands at 10 and 2, watch my cholesterol, and make sure my luggage fits into the carry-on size check rack thingy at the airport. I think those are getting smaller. Or the number of products I pack into my suitcase to help me wage war against age has grown.
Either way, I like to play it safe.
So, when God called me into a writing ministry, I said no. That didn’t sound safe. It didn’t sound like great pay either. Plus, I’ve seen the theology police send people to jail. No parole, no second chances, no grace.
So I kept churning out marketing messages for corporate America, and I got pretty good at making you think you needed a massage, a mammogram, or an MBA. But it all felt sort of lukewarm.
I fed the corporate copy-gobbling machine but not really anyone’s soul.
I was at a career crossroads when a friend said to me: “You have a gift. One day, God is going to ask, ‘What did you do with that gift I gave you? Did you take it out of the gift wrap for Me?’”
I wondered how my husband would feel if he gave me a gift and I never opened it. The thought of him selecting an item just for me, wrapping it in shiny paper, writing my name on it, and then watching me just let it sit on the floor drove me there. To the floor. To my knees.
Time to Take a Risk
That word picture helped me get it. I had nibbled around the edges of Christian blogging, but it hadn’t really cost me anything. I hadn’t wholeheartedly followed God where He’d asked me to go—into a focused, intentional, writing-like-my-hair-was-on-fire ministry. In church I’d sing “on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand,” and then I’d go right back out and rely on that sand not to sink, as if a corporate paycheck is strong enough to hold my weight in this flimsy, fragile world.
“So, God, about that ‘no’ answer I gave you,” I wrote in my journal. “Can we talk about that? Does your invitation still stand? Can I write for You? Did I lose my spot in line? You used a donkey once to speak. Do you want to use me?”
I think sometimes God must laugh at me.
I’d helped build corporate brands, but I’d been scared to make God my “brand.” Throw conviction, butterflies, wild abandon, and possibly poverty into the blender, press purée, and that’s how I felt the day I really decided to obey. That’s when His voice mattered more than any other voice.
What does this have to do with me, you ask? My career isn’t at a crossroads, you might be thinking. Or I’m not a writer, you might be saying.
Oh, but you’re a thinker. A butterflies-filled, wild-abandon thinker who might be like me and Jonah and Moses and a thousand other saints who told God you’d rather keep your hands at 10 and 2. Deep inside, in the place where your soul longs to throw off rationalization and procrastination, you’ve said, maybe later. Or, that’s too risky. Or who am I? I’ve invoked that self-deprecating Moses vibe, too. If we polish it up real nice with humility, doesn’t it even sound holy? (Asking for a friend.)
But here’s the thing. God doesn’t ask us to varnish our lives. He asks us to strip them down.
Abraham left his home for a land he didn’t know (Genesis 12). Moses raised his hand over the sea to make a way where there was no way. (Exodus 14). Mary, a virgin, embraced a physiologically and culturally impossible pregnancy (Luke 1). And a little boy on a hillside looked at the huge, hungry crowd but offered five loaves and two fish (John 6).
So, friend, what’s God asking you to do? Straight into the headwinds of that dormant dream—that risky, possibly reckless thing—is where the exhilaration of a life really lived lies.
Many voices will try to talk us out of it. The enemy lures us to off-label uses for our gifts. Social media shows “everyone else” lapping us. Our own pasts taunt us with reminders of falling and failing. And, sadly, sometimes our parents trained us to hear, “you’re a disappointment” or “you’ll just screw it up.”
God says “Go.”
That’s hands-free living and I’ll admit, it’s scary. But intimacy with God—the kind of closeness where you hear His voice and want more than anything to obey—is cultivated in a crucible. We can’t window shop for it or “Pass Go” to get it. Sometimes it’s rocky and almost always it’s risky.
My Literal, White-Knuckle Drive
This came alive to me recently on the rocky backcountry Arizona road I explored with my husband. It was the kind of no-turning-back trek that had me dropping a pin to my son in case our SUV dropped off the side of the mountain.
We almost got wedged between two boulders, we nearly slipped off a cliff, and we wrecked the rack and pinion, but other than that financial injury, we made it out okay.
It was the first literal white-knuckle drive I’ve taken in years. After telling my husband how mad I was at him while I kissed him in relief, it made me think: I don’t ever want to forget how exhilarating a white-knuckle drive can be. Or the intimacy and trust that’s forged there.
I’m finding my way into that kind of journey with God, too.
I still revert at times. I set my hands at 10 and 2 for a Sunday drive rather than clasping them in emergency prayer for a white-knuckle ride. But I think I’m way more useful to God—and loads more fun—when I hold on tight and go where He leads.
What about you?
Photo credit: Unsplash, Lina Trochez.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Laurie Davies has been writing ever since her advanced composition teacher told her 35 years ago that she broke too many rules. Sentence fragments among them.
A former women’s ministry director and current lay counselor, Laurie helps women set bags down that God didn’t ask them to carry. Faith, freedom, and fun are her jams and she writes about them on the gram at @lauriedaviesauthor, in the Go Get Your Life Facebook group, and at www.lauriedavies.life.
She writes for Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and The Joyful Life magazine and lives in the Phoenix-area with her husband, son and new puppy Pearl.