Courage to Take Steps
The Lord has really blessed me with the opportunity to do a year of service away from home with the GAP Mission Team in Dublin. My GAP year has been an absolutely amazing experience and I want to tell you about one important thing that the Lord is showing me this year. The Lord blesses us greatly if we take a step of courage in faith. I want to share how the Lord has blessed me when I’ve taken a step for Him.
At the beginning of the year we received three weeks of training and preparation for mission. After training were to begin outreach during freshers week at UCD (University College Dublin). Freshers week is when all the new students arrive in college and spend the week looking for friends and student groups to join. We planned to set up a coffee stall right in front of the main bus stop, give out tea & coffee and talk with students. The primary goal was to connect with students and invite them to be part of our UCO (University Christian Outreach) community.
I was absolutely terrified when I heard what we were going to do. I was not a person who was very comfortable with approaching people and chatting to them. I also have a tendency to sleep poorly in stressful situations and as a result I didn’t sleep very well the nights before we started the stall. I prayed a lot about this both by myself and with others and I asked for courage and boldness because I couldn’t see myself succeeding in this. I tried to trust the Lord with everything that was going to happen and I offered Him this opportunity to work in me and through me.
The Lord absolutely blessed me in laying down my life and trusting in him. I had amazing conversations and encounters throughout freshers week and during our regular Tuesday coffee stall. I have had many chances to share my faith and some of the experiences I have had with the Lord. The Lord has been walking with me and changing me for a little while now and I can already see how He has used some of my struggles and doubts to give witness to His goodness. Looking back I am amazed how the Lord turned my fear and anxiety into boldness and strength to stand up for the gospel. On my own I would not have been able to do that.
Taking these steps of faith is a very important part of the Christian life. We are challenged all the time as Christians. Should I tell this person that I am a Christian? Should I trust the Lord in my choice of career? Can I even believe that the Lord has absolutely great things in store for me? These situations always require a response. Choosing to take the easy way is normally the one that leads you away from God rather than closer to him. Often the easy way just means not doing something; not speaking about the gospel or to not saying sorry for something that hurt another person.
God always calls us into action. He calls us out of apathy and resistance. He challenges us to be courageous and to stand up for him. The most important part of choosing to follow God’s call in these challenging situations is faith. Faith that the Lord is on our side and will not let us down. And he never does. When we step out for God he will be on our side to support us and strengthen us. In the end it comes down to us to get up and take the step. God does not move our feet but He blesses every single step we take for Him. I have not used every time I was challenged in my life to make a step closer to God. I let many opportunities pass and that is not a great feeling. But it makes me even more determined to choose for the Lord the next time. During the YES retreat (a Kairos retreat for youth) somebody gave me this verse as an encouragement for steps of courage and it has been in my mind ever since:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope!” Jeremiah 29, 11
The Lord will never let me down. He will always be on my side and he will lead me into greater things than I can even imagine. That is what taking a GAP year is all about. A GAP year is the perfect opportunity to step into that life. It is the moment when the Lord calls you to go away from home, to step into a whole new environment, to explore what he has in store for you and to grow in ways that you could not even imagine. It is challenging, sometimes frustrating and exhausting, but these times are nothing against the joys of experiencing a different country and culture, to live and work with people who seek the Lord like you and to find the Lord in every day of your life.