I just returned from riding horses in the mountains at the peaceful Deep Canyon Guest Ranch in Choteau, Montana. I loved everything about it. The owners, cooks, wranglers, and staff made the week as comfortable as staying with my extended family. Everywhere I looked, there was evidence of God’s beautiful creation. Sunrises, sunsets, crisp air, quaking aspen, black bears & moose. And horses. Gosh – I could brush them and breathe them in for hours on end. And I did.
Even the burned portions of the Bob Marshall Wilderness with new 3-foot-tall pines and even taller Fireweed showed evidence of God’s hand of rebirth after a fiery disaster.
“What do you do?“
As I greeted the other guests at the beginning of the week, I answered the familiar getting-to-know-you questions. What do you do? I took a beat to panic. My old familiar, well-received answer of, “I’m a children’s librarian,” was ready to trip off my tongue. Everyone loves a children’s librarian and the conversation quickly moves to common ground all can enjoy.
However, this was the first time I took the opportunity to share what I’m doing with strangers. Would I look like a fool? I took a deep breath and said “I just resigned from my position as a children’s librarian to go back to school to learn to write with a faith-based perspective.”
What would they think? How much should I share about my faith? Do I go for it, and share my blog, my heart? Leave myself hanging in the breeze? Will I immediately be dismissed as a holy-roller, or whack-job who will bore them to death with judgement and preachy sermons? God Forbid!
I found myself in the moment where the rubber meets the road of a freshly paved highway. For a people-pleaser, it was really difficult for me to lead with information about myself that could immediately cause me to be dismissed or become an out-cast for the week.
But do you know what? I did it anyway. Practice makes perfect. How can it be so easy to share my faith through writing or with my closest friends, but so incredibly hard to share it out loud with strangers?
The news was received with polite and supportive inquiries while I squirmed under the weight of their scrutiny. The moment passed and the spotlight turned elsewhere. Whew, I made it and I was still standing.
Opportunity, and the Spirit, Knocks
I shared little bits of my heart that week. Letting people get a glimpse of the real me. When one of the horses colicked and the vet wasn’t sure he would make it through the night, I felt the Spirit prompt me to ask if I could say grace at dinner and pray for the horse.
When I mentioned what I was thinking, a guest said, well I don’t know…you know how private people can be about those things. And do you know what I said? I don’t care. They can listen or not, agree or not, but they can surely sit quietly for a moment while I pray for this horse.
I truly felt it. In that moment, witnessing my faith to a small group of people and giving God the opportunity to show up and show off by healing a beloved horse at the ranch was more important than what a few people thought of me at that moment. Goodness, where did that boldness come from?
And boy, my prayer wasn’t eloquent at all, but it was heartfelt. You better believe I sent up a dozen more prayers on the side that Smoky wouldn’t die that night because – Jesus it’s all up to you now!
Guess what? Smoky unexpectedly recovered by morning! A few people told me how much it meant that I prayed for him. Glory to God that he had the opportunity to plant seeds of his tremendous loving care for all his creatures, equine bodies and human heart’s, alike.
Blessings From Boldness
As a result of stepping out, a few people shared their heart and faith with me in a way that I know wouldn’t have happened if I had let my pride keep me silent at the beginning of the week. It was a great encouragement to me that I wasn’t alone. There are other Believers out there, like me, glorifying God and taking steps with sharing their faith as well.
In Matthew 16, Jesus is talking to his disciples and preparing them for his death. He asks his disciples, and therefore us to deny ourselves. That includes our inclination to represent ourselves in a way that will be accepted best by others. If we try to save our reputation or elicit man’s good opinion by hiding our faith, then we will lose in the long run.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 16:24-25 ESV
However, the reward for staying true to our faith is great. Jesus says that, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32 NIV
So friend, let’s strive to share our truest heart and our love for Jesus as openly as we can, no matter the cost. What do we have to lose? Our pride for one. And that’s a perfect place to start.
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