True, I heard things that sounded like they could have come straight out of The Sopranos, but trust me, Jersey folk are in no way accurately characterized by the likes of the mafia-based show - at least not as a whole. In the Garden State (a.k.a. New Jersey), we had a wonderful Christian community of neighbors and friends.
What kind of phrases did I hear frequently in the great Garden State?
"It is what it is."
"What are you gonna do?"
"Not for nothin'..." (This one was usually followed by a statement of the person's opinion or something of that sort.)
Fast forward a few years to this Sunday morning in church.
My pastor was reminding us of Nehemiah and his "Heart for Home" as he was burdened to pray for and help begin the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 1:1-11). One of my pastor's points was that Nehemiah had the right heart---a heart for the way it could be. Not just "It is what it is."
Unbelievable! This Texas-born-and-raised, long-time Louisiana resident said something very familiar to my New Jersey memories. And it struck a big chord with me.
Very recently while studying Joseph, I was very impressed by the fact that he told his brothers and his father his dreams (Genesis 37:1-11) regardless of the fact that he may look foolish or even egotistical. He had to know his brothers were already jealous of him and did not care for him, yet he boldly and honestly yet humbly told them the strange dreams he had in which it appeared that he would rule over them---which later came true.
Not just the strange ones from your sleeping hours that stick with you, but even the God-given visions and callings on your life.
Are you afraid to share them with anyone? Afraid of what they will think?
Nehemiah prayed for almost four months that God would grant him "success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man (the king)." (Nehemiah 1:11 - italics, mine) He did not fear when he finally went before the king with his plan to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem so the Lord's people would again have a safe home in the City of David.
Nehemiah knew what he was called to do. It was not at all something that most would find to be wise nor beneficial, but he knew the way it could be---the way it should be. He would not settle for just saying, "It is what it is. What are you gonna do? Not for nothin', but do you realize how much work that will take? And for what?"
No, Nehemiah did not let fear get the best of him. He shared his dream and pressed on, knowing God was supporting and sustaining him all the way.
Okay, so this fearless thing works fine for Nehemiah and Joseph, but they didn't live in my world. Enormous obstacles are in my path daily. Things much larger than anything I can handle. And God, yeah, I sense He is calling me to do some pretty big things...but they sound so far-fetched that there is no realistic way I can ever do these things. What if I try and fail? The "I told you so's" will be more than I can face.
Does that sound a little familiar to you?
Then consider the man I was reading about just before church this Sunday morning---Gideon in Judges 7.
Was Gideon convinced? Was he a "yes man"?
He wanted to be, but his real nature was that of fear and doubt. He constantly needed reassurance from God before moving forward with his assignments.
Yes, you probably recall his back-and-forth with God in which he requested many specific signs from God. (See Judges 6) Each time, the Lord obliged him and gave the signs he requested. God didn't belittle him about his fear and doubt. He lovingly and specifically delivered as requested.
Then, in Judges 7, as Gideon and the Israelites were camping in preparation for attacking the Midianites, God woke Gideon up in the night and told him,
"Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp." (Judges 7:9-11 NIV)
I love that. God knew Gideon would be afraid to attack the Midianites as God was instructing (and with a much smaller army than the enemy), yet God again did not belittle him. Instead, God gave Gideon an acceptable, non-humiliating option of action to take in order to overcome his fear and be encouraged. God used the enemy's words to encourage His Gideon, His "Mighty Man of Valor. (Judges 6:12 NKJV)"
And again, God used His chosen man to change something from "what it is" to "what it could be."
God used the sleeping dreams of the Midianites as well as some clever trickery by the Israelites to send the numerous Midianite enemy army running for their lives in fear and even turning their swords on each other. Gideon and the Israelites in the name of the Lord won the victory.
Again I ask---What dream(s) do you have?
What seemingly foolish and insurmountable task(s) do you know the Lord is calling you to do?
Fear not. Tell others your dreams. Go to God with your doubt and let Him reassure and encourage you.
It's time to do what He says.
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'" (Mark 10:27 NIV)
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
The time for a Hope Revolution is now.
God is leading us into revival just as He led Nehemiah, Joseph, Gideon, and so many more. His Word is full of proof and instruction.
Read it. Trust Him. Do it.
Not for nothin'---let's do it for Him!
*Scripture is from Biblegateway.org