Mark Affleck

I Was in Pain and Could NOT Reach God’s Outstretched Hand

May 15, 2017
Spiritual Growth

I was floating in a slipstream of doubt and fear early in my faith walk and could not make a move toward God’s outstretched and beckoning hand.
I felt like a frightened first-time parachutist who loses their nerve and cowers in the plane’s belly as the pilot screams: “Jump! Jump now!”
So it was with my life. So it was with my lack of spiritual discernment. And so it was with the state of my faith.
Trying to keep everything together as a stressed-out CEO chasing money and possessions, I was surely headed for the existential flashpoint dancing on the horizon of my life. And that is exactly what happened when God used the spiritual maturity class at Saddleback Church to bring me through the confusion and equip me to share my experience with people like you right now.
I learned how the first jump of faith past our perception of risk is always the most difficult because of the palpable uncertainty swirling around what we think will happen when we let go of our support props.
I hit the tipping point while building our home. It was a fog-shrouded morning when I was watching a man on his massive earthmover rumble across the property’s hills, ruts, trees, concrete, and myriad obstacles. I asked him during a break how he knew where to start and what to do with so many unknowns in his path. He quickly and confidently told me that the engineer’s plans provided a general sense of what he was trying to accomplish, but it was not until he started moving the dirt that he really knew what to do.
He continued the story by emphasizing how each time he moved some dirt he learned a little more about the land…how it was sloped…and what was underneath each section of the parcel. He kept repeating, “You’ve got to move the dirt. You’ve got to move the dirt.”
The key was crystal clear—he had to start and he had to explore the unknown to get the answers.
My next question was trying to understand when he would have enough experience to feel more confident before he hopped on his machine and started moving the dirt. His assertive reply put an exclamation point on the metaphor: “I’ve been doing this for thirty-two years and I am as good as the very best operator. But if I waited for the day I knew everything about the property and how to shape it before starting the project, I would never get on the tractor.”
The light bulb in my head was now bright and moving toward blinding. He was describing EXACTLY how it goes when we fear activating our faith to live a life of purpose and service to God’s Kingdom. When we fear what others will think. When we fear falling down in “predictable failure.”
I could see how it’s a matter of taking action past risk. It’s a matter of beginning to begin no matter how uncertain and menacing the road ahead may appear. It’s a matter of trusting God and inching toward his outstretched and beckoning hand…even when we don’t have all of the “answers.”

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