I remember my dad teaching me to ride a bike when I was little.
Actually, I wasn’t that little, as fear kept me from asking to be taught for quite some time. It didn’t seem logically possible that my own sense of balance was enough to sustain me on those teetering two wheels. What if I just couldn’t get it, and ended up feeling stupid? What if I hurt myself trying? But as much as I tried to put it off, I knew that in the long term it would be a good thing to know. It did take me a while to learn – but eventually, I just got it. Once I started to think less, and use my natural instincts more, it came easy.
I’ve let fear hold me back from doing a lot of things.
I have a natural interest in acting and performing, yet I never auditioned for parts at school because I was just too shy.
I’ve always liked writing stories, yet I never really believed I could make a career out of it, as much as I wanted to. However when I met my now-husband Michael, he encouraged me to follow my dreams, and with his help and belief in me I was able to land my first job as a cadet journalist at a newspaper.
Fear, or lack of self-belief, can hold us back from discovering the God-given gifts and talents we possess. But in a way, it’s not really about self-belief. It’s about believing that God can strengthen us, ease our fears, and give us the boldness and confidence to follow our dreams.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that God made you uniquely you, with a special set of qualities no-one else possesses.
How are you going making use of those?
I don’t think we’re necessarily meant to use all our gifts all at the same time, because the seasons of our lives change continually. There are always natural, external limits to what we can do. For example, right now I’m in the season of early parenthood. While it’s a lifelong commitment for sure, there will come a time where my kids are less dependent on me. My current season poses certain limits on my time, just as a career, or relationship, or other circumstances would.
What resources do you have right now, and what do you believe your natural strengths are?
It can be a bit of a journey to discover what they are, especially when people in your life have discouraged you, put you down – or if there have been interruptions to your life outside your control.
But whatever season we’re in, we have opportunities we’ve simply never had before. To exit our comfort zone and discover who we are, what we are capable of, and what God might be leading us to.
The possibilities are endless.
Sitting on that bike was scary the first time I did it. The first job interview wasn’t much easier – or the new school, or first date. But God reminded me that He was with me, and is still with me, giving me the strength and courage I need.
There is never a perfect time.
Is there a ‘bike’ you’re thinking about riding but aren’t sure? It might be as simple as sitting on the rickety seat for a little while, getting a feel for it. It might mean asking someone who’s skilled in cycling for advice on how to hold the handles. It might mean ensuring someone is there to catch you when you fall.
Jesus certainly will.
Why not start with these words from the Bible?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Tim 1:7 NLT)
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13 NLT)
And to finish, an excerpt from Zechariah 4 (MSG):
“The Messenger-Angel again called me to attention. It was like being wakened out of deep sleep.
He said, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top. Seven lamps, each with seven spouts, are set on the bowl. And there are two olive trees, one on either side of the bowl.”
Then I asked the Messenger-Angel, “What does this mean, sir?”
The Messenger-Angel said, “Can’t you tell?”
“No, sir,” I said.
Then he said, “This is God’s Message to Zerubbabel: ‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. ‘So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you’re nothing but a molehill. He’ll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!'”
After that, the Word of God came to me: “Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!”
And Zerubbabel did finish the temple God directed him to start building. (For more of this story, see Ezra 6:14–18, and the book of Haggai).
Let no-one despise your day of small beginnings.