Going Big

“One Step At a Time,” ©Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2017 Lynn Abbott

It stood near the back, bay window.  Big, white and menacing.   Light shined from behind… a kind of late afternoon halo reminding me that God had this under control.

But I trembled, nonetheless.  My confidence, at best, remained shaky.

A yeti?  The abominable snow man?

No.  An enormous but empty canvas.

It taunted me from my studio.  Indeed, the monster stood in that very spot for weeks. I side-stepped it as I moved around my work space.

I attempted to ignore it as I passed from my studio to the kitchen.  But it refused to be overlooked.

I didn’t have time to deal with such a giant.  There were too many other deadlines to meet: smaller compositions, art shows, publication deadlines, website designs and updates, marketing tasks, and of course, this beloved space.

It isn’t as though I haven’t tackled such a behemoth in the past.

And so I stumbled around Colossus. I hauled it from one side of the room to the other.  I attempted to work around it, but it got in the way most of the time.

For this reason, I finally rallied my courage and tackled the beast.

No more excuses.  No more procrastination.  I knew I must take the plunge and as Nike says, “Just do it!”

It isn’t as though I haven’t tackled such a behemoth in the past.

Actually, I suspect that’s why I hesitated.  I know well the commitment and time that such a large canvas requires.

To be honest, although I love a challenge, my uncertainty grows exponentially with the size of canvas.

Thus, I turned to the Creator in desperate prayer.  I asked the Master Artist for guidance, and as I read His Word in the quiet last Saturday morning, He reminded me that I don’t have to accomplish His calling all at once.

With this in mind, despite my fears, I made my first brush mark.

And then another…

And another…

That’s right. I moved toward my destination one step at a time.

There was no flurry of inspiration or sign of sudden success.  I simply followed through and then, looked toward my next step.

Indeed.  Abba used my reading in the book of Joshua  to remind me that the Promised Land isn’t conquered in a day.

You see, I frequently dismiss the importance of battles faced after Jericho and Ai.  Yet, Josh’s history doesn’t end with chapters 6-8.

Yup.  There are 16 more chapters in Joshua’s book.   City after city; field after field and battle after battle, Josh and the Israeli army took possession of the Promised Land.

I turn to the Creator in desperate prayer.  I ask the Master Artist for guidance and then, despite my fears, I step forward.

God promised that Land to His people.  But the realization of that promise required perseverance and ongoing faith.

Perhaps, like me, you love to read of God’s promised blessings.  But perseverance? Not so much.   If it were possible, I’d fast-forward to the fulfilled Promise.

Could God have simply swept Canaan clean, and moved Israel into the land?  Of course.

But God values our progress as much as its reward.  Our heavenly Father desires more for us than simply the fulfillment of big dreams.

In the past, I have skimmed through Joshua 11-22.  After all, a catalog of Israeli battles and conquests appeared to have little personal application.

But I was mistaken.  I missed the big picture of Joshua’s life.

Vision… Josh’s life had been driven by it.  Yet, his dream of the Promised Land had been put off by a faithless people more than 40 years prior.

Perhaps like young Joshua, you have dreams and faith that God will accomplish great things.  But your relationships with others have brought some “detours” along the way.

Not to fear.  God  uses every experience to bring about His purposes.  In fact, God brought about great good in Josh’s life in the wilderness.

Josh spent 40 years under the tutelage of the greatest of Israel’s prophets; during Israel’s wilderness wanderings, God prepared Josh to become the nation’s next great leader.

Perhaps, it seems that God has put the “promise” for your life on hold for a little while.

And that “little while” stretched into years.   The cares of life–raising a family, earning a living, or serving others– swallowed up the time you hoped to devote to that God-given dream or purpose.

Nothing is wasted.  You’ve devoted yourself to providing for loved ones, to care-giving or a multitude of life’s necessary and worthy endeavors. Certainly, these are as much a part of God’s great plan for you as caring for Israel in the desert was part of Yahweh’s purpose for Josh.

Our Heavenly Father cares most about people.  Thus, no time spent in godly ministering to others is outside of His gracious plan for you and me.

Through people,  Abba patiently prepares us for all that He has planned…just as He groomed Josh to pick up Moses’ mantle.

Abba never forgets a promise.  Thus, after Josh served for years in the wilderness, God brought Josh back to the Promised Land.

Through people,  Abba patiently prepares us for all that He has planned…just as He groomed Josh to pick up Moses’ mantle.

Yes, you may find yourself sitting in the waiting room.  Growing, learning and hoping for that future day when God’s promise becomes reality.

Quite honestly, I sometimes ask, “Abba, are we there yet?”

Josh had watched youth fade into middle-age.  And then, Moses was gone.  Suddenly, the full responsibility of a nation fell on Josh’s shoulders.

Initially, things went well.  Victories came rapidly.

But as I read further, it becomes clear that despite the victories at Jericho and Ai, the conquest of Canaan required many years to accomplish.

In fact, although Israel had been victorious, things didn’t get any easier.  The nation continued to face enormous challenges.

On one occasion, the nation reached a hillside summit only to view a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  Their enemy’s encampment appeared as vast as the sand on the beach.

In Joshua 11,  we are told that a large assembly of Canaanite kings and their armies allied against Israel.

Scripture describes it in this way: “And they came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots… to fight against Israel,” (Joshua 11: 4-5).

Talk about a Colossus!  Had I been in Joshua’s position I certainly would have questioned my calling.

“Perhaps,” I might reason, “God only intended for me to go this far.  Maybe, I dream too big.”

I imagine that Josh may have doubted at times…  Could it be that the ten other spies had been right?  Was the conquest of Canaan simply too audacious a goal?

Ever feel this way?  When the doors to a God-inspired dream begin to open, do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the task?

Understandably,  discouragement threatens to take the heart captive.

Undoubtedly, there are some days that the dream seems too big.

You may ask, as I regularly do, “If this is the way in which I should walk, then why is it so difficult?  Is there enough time and energy to achieve this task?”

Yet,  spreading our aching hearts and frail faith before the Master, we hear Him gently whisper, “Do not be discouraged. The battle is Mine.”

Joshua’s book repeats this truth lest we miss it.

“Then, the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel…”

If we spread our aching hearts and frail faith before the Master, we will hear Him gently say, “Do not be discouraged. The battle is Mine.”

The giant may bellow.  Behemoths intimidate.  And at times, you may feel inadequate as you seek to fulfill God’s calling.

In such moments, the slingshot seems a ridiculous tool.  It’s easy to question the value of five small loaves and two fish.

And yet, in His great love for you, the Savior addresses your uncertainty.

Our God gently reminds you and me that it has never been about our strength, (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  In truth, He very often calls His children to tasks greater than they can handle, (1 Corinthians 1:27).

His purpose?  He knows that in our weakness, we trust in His strength.  When we turn to the Savior, He demonstrates His might and power on our behalf.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts,” (Zechariah 4:6).

This past week, I sprinted into Abba’s throne room; once again, I sought His direction for my next step.

As I prayed, I clung to Psalm 37:4-5: “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him and He will do it.”

But I well know that God doesn’t give me everything that I think I want.  Abba knows you and me better than we know ourselves.

As our Creator, He understands what we truly desire, how best to fill our hearts and to bring about His promise for that promised “future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God closes some doors.  But that doesn’t mean the future He has planned for me–that God-given dream–must die.

I have discovered that God often leads me in unexpected ways.  Without a doubt, the journey will not be easy.

But it will bring about good in my life…

Yes, our God has proven again and again that He uses disappointment to direct you and me. He turns mourning into dancing, (Psalm 30:11).

God has proven again and again that He uses disappointment to direct you and me. He turns mourning into dancing, (Psalm 30:11).

And on the journey, you and I draw closer to Him. When God uses us to overcome giants, our faith grows.

Joshua shows us how to persevere in those tough moments.  Year after year, he faithfully led God’s people in the conquest of the Promised land.

Scripture tells us that even when he was old, much of the land still remained unconquered, (Joshua 13:1).  Yet, Joshua did live to see the Promise fulfilled.  I can imagine his grin as he assigned land and territories to the various families of Israel.

And it all happened because Josh trusted God and made the journey one step at a time.   And God took care of everything else.

Tired?  Overwhelmed?  Do you doubt your calling?  Do circumstances seem to mock you?  Do you wonder where to go next?

Yahweh longs to direct you.  He has promised and He is faithful.  And although we cannot see our way clear, we can trust  Him because we know that, as David said to Goliath, “the battle is the LORD’s,” ( 1 Samuel 17:47).

By faith, we persevere.  We trust our omnipotent God for each next step. After all, our God is greater than any giant we face.

“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass,” ~1 Thessalonians 5:24

“I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me… My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!”~Psalm 57:2,7