I recently read a book called, “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” by Mark Batterson. In the book, he encourages Christians to trust God and realize that the future God wants for them is hiding in their biggest problem, worst failures and greatest fears! He emphasizes, as does the Bible, that God is glorified as His people step into the seemingly impossible opportunities that stand between them and their dreams because these are the places where God’s involvement can be the only explanation for success. Even if the outcome is not that which was hoped for according to our definition of success, we are still ahead because we will have the opportunity to grow in our relationship with God, thus, find ourselves changed. Besides, we can trust that God doesn’t waste anything. The efforts made will certainly be used for God’s purposes to bring forth the planned outcome of God.
For instance, a number of years ago, Jon (my husband) and I answered the call to plant a church in Lumberton, NC. With little financial support and no previous pastoral experience; with statistics saying small towns that are no longer growing are not the place to plant a new church especially by an outsider; with the knowledge that it was an area with more than significant spiritual warfare and that a previous attempt to plant there by our sending church had failed just two years prior; with some reluctance of this area being expressed by our sending pastor who at first suggested we consider a different town; and with a support team made up of individuals who barely knew us and therefore had little faith in our call but had more faith in their own call, we went in full obedience and faith that God would take care of us and accomplish His purpose. Although there were many struggles, there were many great things that happened through the plant to include salvations, water baptisms, new commitments to the Lord, divine relationships established through the fellowship, and the redirection of the life of a young man (I’ll call him “E”). This young man was talking about going off to New York and training to become a fireman. A worship pastor from our sending church told us about him and told us he felt he might have a call to lead worship, but that he could not see that “E” would ever have the chance to discover it at that church. Besides he was making other plans and the pastor was afraid the young man was about to miss his destiny. Jon and I were already acquainted with him so Jon (my husband) met with “E” and asked him to lead our worship team for six months while the man he promised that position to was called away to serve in Afghanistan. He ended up leading for a year or so and even for awhile after the original leader returned, and in that time came to realize his calling as did we. I remember clearly the day Jon told him he felt he had a pastoral gifting and he encouraged him to take classes at the Bible college. This experience with us turned this young man’s life in a different direction than he was headed. This became his initial training and preparation for becoming ordained as an associate pastor just this week at an existing church in a growing area. Besides that, this young man met his wife while in fellowship with us in Lumberton. All of this was God’s plan and this is just one example of what came out of our obedience to “go” even in the midst of defying odds.
As for the church plant, it fell apart in its sixth year and we have moved on. But you see, nothing was wasted! God was glorified in our obedience in many ways as He worked out His plan for so many people through our obedience; and Jon and I are that much closer to our own destiny of becoming like Christ as well. Our relationship grew with Christ through the experience of obedience and in the experience of letting go of God’s people for Him to do as He pleased. We are not even close to being the same today as we were when we set out on that journey. You can only WIN in being obedient to God. As Batterson says, “I wish I could tell you that every lion chase ends with a lion skin hanging on the wall, but it doesn’t…the dot.com dreamer is successful beyond his wildest dreams, but the guy with political aspirations lost the election. However, both of them are LION CHASERS in my book. What sets lion chasers apart ISN’T THE OUTCOME. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams. Lion chasers don’t let their fears or doubts keep them from doing what God has called them to do.
So, we are called to run after these opportunities as God puts the desire on our hearts. Or, as Batterson puts it, “chase lions” and lay hold of God’s best by not allowing our past experiences, present circumstances, fears, doubts, bad decisions, or habits keep us from stepping into what God has called us to do. Instead, chase these opportunities and with God’s help defy the odds, face our fears and re-frame our problems, embrace uncertainty, take risks, and seize opportunities – all at the risk of looking FOOLISH. As our trust grows in God’s sovereign timing and positioning us for His purpose in our life’s circumstances, and as we learn to recognize and lay hold of our God-ordained opportunities, we are transformed from glory to glory. And, that is God’s best no matter what the exterior circumstances look like. Next time around, the outcome may be just what one expects! So continue on chasing lions knowing God is with you. It’s all good! It’s all in God’s hands to be used for HIS eternal purposes!