Addressing the "What's Nexts" and "What Ifs"

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As the summer draws to a close and the fall picks up, I find myself feeling so many different emotions at the same time: sadness at the end of summer; excitement for all that is coming up in the next months; and, if I’m honest, a low level of anxiety as I face all of the “what’s next” and “how will I do it all” questions that roll around in my mind. 

While these thoughts have been rumbling and racing in my mind and heart, I have prayed this prayer from a devotional by Philip F. Reinders. Seeking God's Face.

God of blessing, what a mess I create when I wrestle the future out of your hand and take it upon myself. I pray for patient trust for today and good confidence for tomorrow, knowing that nothing can separate me from your love, because my curse fell on Jesus so your blessing can come to me. Amen.

Just the other day, I received an email from my dad passing along words of encouragement from Roger Gulick, an older friend and mentor in faith to both of my parents. Roger’s words feel very timely as we all face various “what ifs” that await each of us. God has used the prayers and encouragement of his people to remind me to trust Jesus in the midst of my excitements but also my uncertainties and fears. He is with us. He knows our fears. But he equips us and encourages us with his grace and love. 

We hope you'll read this and also be encouraged about what God has in store for us.


From Dr. Roger Gulick, former assistant pastor at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church

ENCOURAGE

At this year’s Global Leadership Summit, Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of International Justice Mission, addressed courage and fear. He told the crowd that leadership begins with a dream, and fear is our fundamental challenge. Fear can destroy a dream. “What ifs” come in. “What if I fail?” “What if I get hurt or killed?” Preoccupation with self comes in.

Haugen mentioned three things that I need to remember, three things that help dreams survive.

First, in God’s presence, we need to relentlessly examine our fears. What is it that we are really anxious about? We need to take some time, sit still and look inside to see what is actually going on.

Second, we need to switch from defense to offense. Avoid defense, where we ask, “What might go wrong?” Take the offensive and ask, “What might go right?” God is inviting his people to stop the joy-killing defensive approach to living. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” The gates of hell are not on the offense, Haugen said. The gates are not attacking. We as Christians should be on the offensive. We are to bring healing, redemption and justice into the darkness.

Third, we need to forge a community of courage around us. Lone Rangers don’t change the world. Jesus was God and could have done the Lone Ranger thing, but he created a team and invested himself in them and encouraged them. There is great power in a team that is humbly serving one another. Jesus told us to love one another as he loved us. When we forge a community as we work toward our dream, we are encouraged. Remember, courage, like fear, is contagious.

Be encouraged.