The ﬁfth of the GROWTH practices I advocate is to Trust God in a New Venture. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and do something new and diﬀerent to help God’s Kingdom come in some person or group’s life. This is what you are asking for in the Lord’s Prayer. As Luther explains, “The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer. But we pray in this petition that it may come in and through us, also.”
A basic part of discipleship is to let yourself be drawn Closer to God. The Spirit does this when you trust him to bless your new kind of eﬀort. So much the better when it seems beyond your ability to accomplish. Stretch your trust!
The classic example is to commit yourself to increase your oﬀering by one or two percent. See what happens. Will you get through the year ﬁnancially OK? If so, try increasing it the next year until you work yourself up to a 10% tithe. See if you can live that way. Can you feel a higher trust level and Closer to God? Pastors notoriously don’t like to preach stewardship sermons. Consider it to be a sermon on being drawn Closer to God. That should be the essence of a pastor’s ministry.
I am a missions pastor, and I lead many members on mission trips to other countries, especially Haiti. Oft are the times I hear someone afterward declaring that the trip was a life-changing experience. For the ﬁrst-timer, this means they learned to trust and thus overcome fear. It also usually means they have encountered true poverty for the ﬁrst time, changing their perspective on their blessings from God.
Marketers talk about liminality or threshold experiences. These are a new perspective that opens up new understandings, like standing on the threshold of a diﬀerent door for a new perspective on a room. Try some diﬀerent perspectives on your Christian life and respond to new opportunities you recognize.
Trusting God in a new venture is at the heart of the very popular study Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. It has been translated into 49 languages and sold more than 7 million copies. Blackaby writes especially for Baptists, who in their Calvinist heritage are not used to talking about the Holy Spirit at work today. Where he says God, we can in most cases say God in the Third Person, the Holy Spirit.
Blackaby teaches seven realities: 1) God is at work around you, 2) God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal, 3) God invites you to become involved with him in his work, 4) God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal himself, his purposes and his ways, 5) God’s invitation for you to work with him leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action, 6) You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what he is doing, 7) You come to know God at a deeper level as you obey him and he accomplishes his work through you.
Blackaby’s experience of discovery came when planting a church. Things didn’t go as he anticipated. But then the plant ﬁnally took oﬀ.
For me moving cross-country to plant a church brought a new threshold for my perspective on God. It also provided a profound experience of God when my major plans produced no results, and I faced personal failure. I had hit the Wall. I experienced a new kind of deep conversation with God that led to an ongoing interest in studying prayer.
You don’t have to move away to challenge your trust in God. Give encouragement to a store clerk who is having a bad day. Organize a service project to help a neighbor in need. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone in a new way to help God’s kingdom here and now. The Spirit will work in you a new level of love, joy, and peace.