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Take the First Step

In order to go skydiving, you have to sit and watch a tutorial on how to work a parachute and then sign pages and pages of waivers with the words, “In case of death…”. In skydiving you sit on a plane and for a brief moment you get to enjoy the view, but its short lived as you are suddenly rushed to the open door of a shaky plane. What happens next is just unexplainable–you are asked to let go and jump. They don’t let you think for a minute or give you words of encouragement. There is no time for a selfie. Fear sets in and it strangles your courage. Most people, given the option, would probably choose to turn back as they see the world 10,000 feet above the ground.

This is similar to what Elijah was facing. He had every excuse to stay in his cave, he was facing many uncertainties, the timing could have been better and more frightening is that once he stepped forward there was the challenge of facing all he had run from. What makes Elijah a great man of God is that he stepped forward in the right direction and went.

The first step out never comes without challenges. Crossing borders, stepping into new seasons, walking through open doors will always stretch our faith and challenge our comfort. The moment you step out of the cave into a new environment the adventure begins.

DISCUSS
What wild adventure would you want to go on? Is it an excursion trip, an extreme sport experience?

Read 1 Kings 19:15-21, Genesis 12:1-5, Matthew 28:16-20
When God calls Elijah out of his cave in 1 Kings 19:15, he says to him, “Go back the way you came.” He tells Elijah He has prepared colleagues, a confidant, and a community for the prophet. Verse 19 records Elijah’s response: “So Elijah went from there.”

It’s a small phrase but it carries tremendous implications. This marks the point of action. The powerful encounter with the wind, earthquake, and fire plus the profound whisper of God was all leading up to this moment. Not only did Elijah have to choose to leave the cave behind, but he also had to choose to leave the cave in the right direction.

  • Elijah had to “go” into the right direction. He could have gone deeper in the cave or detoured like Jonah. Where are you headed? Have you experienced taking a detour from God’s calling or choosing to go deeper in the cave?
  • Do you think the command God gave Abraham to “go” was challenging? List some of the challenges and then read Hebrews 11:8.
  • The verses in Matthew 28 mention that some doubted even after seeing him yet Jesus still commanded them to “go.” Stepping out and actually going can be terrifying. Are you afraid of stepping out of your cave? Do you doubt that taking a step forward will change anything?

The challenge is not simply to emerge from the cave, but to step out of the cave a changed person. Every new season requires a fresh sense of power and spiritual influence to succeed in. Elijah stepped boldly out of the cave toward the dreaded desert but with a new expectation. He had been changed by the cave.

unstuck7You can walk full of hope that as challenging as your bold step may be it will help jump start the mundane and get you unstuck to run fully towards your mission.

ACTIVITY
Purpose:
To take the first bold step out of our cave and into our calling! What bold steps do you need to take? Trace your shoe on a piece of paper and write down a bold step you will take in your relationships (spouse, immediate family, and friends) and a bold step you will take in your walk with God (join a ministry, get baptized, mentor someone, lead a small group, etc.). Share with the group as a support.

WHAT IS A BOLD STEP?

  1. They are always difficult to take and usually involve facing a major fear. Let’s be honest. If it were easy you would have taken this step a long time ago.
  2. They are written down and shared with others. Accountability assures that we will follow through.
  3. They are concrete. The best bold steps are the ones you know you have taken or have not taken. There is no ambiguity.
  4. They have an expiration date. If our steps have no deadlines, we will be tempted to procrastinate. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we will eventually follow through while we put things off indefinitely. Remember, delayed obedience is ultimately disobedience.
  5. They are the first step in a longer journey.

Read Luke 13:10-13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23
While her medical issue was undeniably physical, the root of her problem was spiritual. She had a spiritual problem that affected her soul and her body as well. Luke, the author of this gospel and the book of Acts, was also a doctor. And he uses interesting words to diagnose her condition. He doesn’t use the word that would mean “illness, disease, or injury.” Instead he uses the phrase “crippled by a spirit.”

  • What did Jesus ask this woman to do? Why was this an important step?
  • How do you picture Luke 13:10-13 in your mind? Describe in your own words what you think it must have been like for this woman and for the crowd?
  • In the verse in 1 Thessalonians we can see we are deeply connected in three parts: spirit, soul and body. Each one of these parts of a person can hold the others up but can also pull the others down. Have you seen this to be true in your life? Share a specific example.

Her journey to freedom hinged on her willingness to take the difficult step of responding to the promptings of Jesus. This is one of the most important details in this moving passage. And if you read it quickly you can miss it altogether. Jesus called her forward. Rarely does someone with a deformity of any kind want to step up to the public platform. Jesus is calling her out of the shadows of her own personal cave and into the spotlight. This is a difficult moment, but she responds and takes the first painful step forward. She has to leave the comfort of her cave and take the risk of stepping into an uncertain future.

REFLECT
With which statement do you find yourself agreeing most:

  1. I am ready to take my bold step and excited about what God has in store for my life.
  2. I am hesitant to take my bold step but I’m praying that God will give me the faith to step forward.
  3. I am not ready to take my bold step, I am not even sure what it is and I feel unsure about my future.

PRAY
Pray that you can leave the season of being stuck behind and step out in boldness and expectation as you obey His voice.

REMEMBER
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

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