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002 Following God into the Unknown

Picture: Purplemattfish

(This post and audio has been updated)

The African Impala is a deer-like animal that can jump to great heights, yet be contained in any zoo enclosure with just a one metre high wall. Why? Because it won’t jump if it can’t see where it’s feet will land. That’s like many of us: we won’t take a risky leap of faith unless we know beforehand where we’ll end up, and so we rarely experience the adventure that life with God is meant to bring.

In this talk, recorded at a community dinner held by St Phillips Christian College in Newcastle, Australia, for staff, students, parents and civic leaders, I retell the story of Abraham’s call to an ‘unknown land’, weaving in some personal experiences of my own to offer some lessons on what it means to hear the voice of God, walk by faith and live a life of adventure.

It’s funny… when you’re asked to speak somewhere you hope you’ll bring something beneficial to your audience. But since this talk was recorded I’ve moved from Australia to the UK, and I’ve found myself in need of this message personally. I’m having to put my (easy) words into (risky) practice once more.

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Listener Question

  • Rowena in Sydney: When you follow God into a new venture, how do you transition financially? Share your wisdom with Rowena in the comments section.

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Question: How have you learnt to put fear aside and ‘leap’ towards a new and unknown future? How did you finance it? Leave a comment now.

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  • Vivienne Voysey

    Vivienne Voysey
    You can look back over your life and wonder why on earth you did that thing or took that path that caused you so much anguish and pain! It is not until decades later that you see why! Certain other things would not have happened had you cho…sen a different life.
    It is all a mystery that only emphasises even more, that we should trust our God even when life is very scary and confusing!
    Jesus said “without me you can do nothing”. We make mistakes pick ourselves up and see the end result later. Usually there is something important or good that comes out of it if we acted in love and good faith at the time.
    We are very frail creatures. Even the most courageous of us experiences fear. But look what has been accomplished by those who pressed on regardless of that fear – very encouraging things that inspire us all!

    • Reminds me of someone who said that faith is not the absense of fear but a courageous step in the midst of it.

  • Grace Doris

    Well, you and Merryn are about to “leap” into another adventure yourselves and definitely, for us, we can relate very much with what you are saying. Having taken many leaps of faith ourselves – me leaving Malaysia to marry cross-culturally and live in Australia, moving on to serve on OM ships for 4 years, and then on to Scotland for Glen to get his PhD!! And then me starting my own business,…never saw that one coming!! While we have had many experiences of trying to figure out what God is saying to us, acting on it in faith, still, the next time we have to do it, there is still the worry, and the fear to deal with. Perhaps it is not that we doubt that God is not powerful to act, but we doubt that we’ve heard His call correctly. What if,….we jump,…..and then we find out that we were mistaken? He never called us out of the boat to walk on water after all – it was just our desire to please ourselves or maybe we are closet adreneline junkies? A friend of mine set me straight during one of those times, when she said that if your desire is to please and honour God in what you are doing, why do you think God won’t honour that? When I asked her where she got such wisdom and insight from, she said,…well, I got that from Glen’s sermon last Sunday……
    See you sometime after you’ve jumped and landed in the UK!!!

    • Great thoughts Grace. ‘Perhaps it is not that we doubt that God is not powerful to act, but we doubt that we’ve heard His call correctly.’ Right on. Love your friend’s response, echoing your hubby’s own wisdom! Even if we miss-hear, He won’t let us fall.

      Yes, see you in the land of promise soon. 🙂

  • LucyJ

    Yeah, Sheridan, I have often pondered about the relationship between faith and action. A couple of things I stumbled over on the faith journey that helped me pick up and move on were:
    1. the Hebrew word for faith, “emunah” is ACTIVE trust (i.e. a trust and relationship with God) whilst actualising or doing something, which is different to a static belief… i.e. something proven and learned through practise – walking the talk
    2. it’s easier to change direction when in motion than to kick-start from a static position. So if we step out in faith and find it’s the “wrong” direction (perhaps a mistake) then it’s easier to change to a better direction, plus we’ve probably learned something valuable on the way. The most interesting dances visuallly and experientially, are those with creative pathways and a variety of mood changes… so I think, is life 🙂

    • Brilliant, Lucy. Active, experienced, practical trust as-we-walk with God. And I love the connection with the arts. The key words here seem to be trust and movement – which recaps Abraham’s journey, and resonates with my own lessons.

  • Malcolm

    When you exercise your “muscles”, each time you’ll end up jumping higher and further than you ever dreamed. You are faithful servant Sheridan, and both you and Merryn will be blessed! Enjoyed listening to you speak here, and by the way, there could just be a couple of old air checks hanging around somewhere… – lol 😉 Good times had, and better times ahead.

    • And I’ll be trusting that those old air checks, with all my on-air stumbles, never see the light of day. Are we clear, friend? 🙂 Thanks Malcolm. You’re a champ.

  • Samantha

    Amazing story. I can relate.
     
    I went through very similar circumstances from 2008 – searching, changing jobs, depression, selling my house, living with mum and dad, health issues, suffering hard-ship thru redundancy & unemployment for 12 months, A tough cycle of circumstances.
     
    I have come through this, and indentified what my dream was and still is !!
    A Piano Studio: running my own piano small business.
     
    I am now doing this. I have started at the bottom of the ladder again, but I have found my passion and my purpose, and for the first time I know it is what God has planned for me, and I have listened to that voice inside.
     
    I am so glad I listened to your talk. I didn’t know your Journey, so thanks, it was inspiring.
     
    I have learnt Grace and forgiveness and Now I believe:
     
    The will of God will never lead you
    where the Grace of God can not keep you

  • Guest

    “what it means to hear the voice of God, walk by faith and live a life of adventure”

    Wow, I can relate to that right now. I have just stepped out in faith and started a Not For Profit Organisation called Living Child Inc. (www.livingchildinc.com) to provide midwifery education and support to the Village Birth Attendants in remote villages of Papua New Guinea. I live in Perth, Western Australia. Yes, PNG is Australia’s closest neighbour, but Perth is it’s furthest point of contact!! So why? And why me?

    Well, the whole story is too long to share here, but please feel free to read my blog where I share the journey of following God’s call: http://www.midwiferybeyondborders.wordpress.com.

    In summary though I can say:
    1. God’s call is never out of the blue and it’s not something totally out of kilter with what you’ve been doing before. It seems to be the next step in where He has been taking you already.
    2. There is always a process. He takes you to and through situations over many years to refine you and prepare you for greater responsibility and work for Him.
    3. After the obedience and step of faith comes the provision and reassurance. It doesn’t come before you jump.
    4. There will always be opposition (and often it’s from people you least expect it), weakness, doubt, feeling slightly mad. But knowing that God will never set you up to fail is a good place to be. Remember His promises and fix your eyes on Him.
    5. The word of the Lord (the Bible) can be trusted totally. God will speak to you through His word so remember to read His word, meditate on it and pray.
    6. Surround yourself with prayer warriors as you consider God’s call on your life. He’ll also provide people that will support you and can see His ‘annointing’ of you.

    Working in PNG is full of unknowns and is a real adventure. There are security concerns, financial concerns, concerns that maybe I’ve got it all wrong and I’ve heard God ‘incorrectly’! But then I remember the women in the village and the sense that I had when I was there, that I was doing what I was doing because God heard their prayers for help. I remember how God provided a travel companion in my friend at the last minute, enough funds for all our expenses through the generous donations of many. I look around me and see how He has provided me with a wonderful management team committed to the vision for this work that I believe God planted in the first place. And so at the end of the day all I can say is To God be the Glory! and I’ll go where He leads because He knows what’s best for me.

    • What a great work you’re doing, and I just love those six points. So true! God bless you as you bless the women of PNG.

  • rowena

    Hi Sheridan,

    Thought a little update would be in order I have cut and paste a little blurb Craig wrote to our mission’s pastor this week.

    ===========================================
    I am very grateful to the Lord for His provision. “Company” have
    given me a good deal. The job is 4 days a week and pays 60K per

    year for a 30 hour week over those 4 days and I can bump
    that up a bit to about 65K by working a few extra hours per week.

    They will give me a full 4 wks holiday per year. So I feel quite
    blessed by the deal.

    Rowena will still work 1 day a week so that will give us a gross
    family income of around $80K a year which

    Is adequate for our living expenses.

    If you or the businessman could support me for 1 day per week I
    would use that money for ministry expenses

    like DVDs, Bibles, Printing, Discipleship resources,
    Self-Training materials, Ministry equipment and Gifts.

    When I go to someone’s house where I’ve never been before its
    culturally appropriate to take a gift like

    some biscuits or sweets.

    I feel a bit disappointed that we are not going to full-time
    ministry at this stage but Row and I feel that given

    our overall family situation that part-time work is a good
    outcome. We feel we were obedient to seek and trust God

    for a job that permitted a ministry outlet and He delivered it.
    Thanks to The Lord for His faithfulness.

    Row and I are praying to commence full-time ministry to Muslims
    in 2014 as the Lord leads.

    Thanks for all your encouragement!

    Craig

    ==================================
    So Sheridan there is it…step one in the journey into the unknown, begins with baby steps….