The hardest part is taking the first step
The hardest part is taking the first step. The easiest thing is to never take the first step.
Have you ever stood in the mall behind someone who has never rode on an escalator before? They are apprehensive, not entirely sure how this great chunk of metal will carry them to their destination. They stand, ready, and are just about to place their foot on the next step that appears, but suddenly pull back, determining that wasn’t ‘the one’ and wait for the next ‘right’ step. Moving aside, they graciously allow others to go before them, then look around and get distracted, oh, the snack shop over there off to the right has a special and it’s just too good to miss. They leave, but then they come back.
Maybe someone comes along and tells them of a different way, another path – maybe they never even have to go on that escalator – and yet there is still a pull. So they stand there and encourage others. 'Oh I could never go, but well done, you go.' Or maybe they like the idea of getting on but believe they will do better where they are as they aren’t sure just how their skills could be used wherever the escalator leads. Or they stay where they are because they’re pretty sure there is someone else with the same skill already there, why would they need another carpenter/teacher/barista/(fill in your profession here)? So they stand still taking care of all those around them, always yearning and yet never fully committing to that first step.
They see the needs around them and yet miss the fact that there are plenty of people not on the escalator – who aren’t supposed to get on this particular escalator – who could fill those needs instead.
What they don't know standing at the start of that escalator, is that once you get both feet on, you’re carried. That you don't actually need all the answers, you just need to start the journey.
I think stepping out into overseas work can be a bit like stepping onto an escalator for the first time. We talk a lot in Christianity about stepping out, but what does that mean? I guess it means going forward, not remaining in one place. Or making a specific move in a direction – that sometimes is different from what you first imagined.
I have always loved different cultures and felt an interest and a pull to other parts of the world. I graduated from university and suddenly had a push to get out to the nations. I remember one evening so clearly. I had a good job and was driving my car home. Stopping at a traffic light I looked into a home. The curtains were open and I could see this lovely family inside. And I was hit by the realisation that that could be me in 20 years time. I could carry on with my nice job, maybe I would get married, have kids and suddenly wonder why I had never stepped out to what I had been clearly called to. I didn't know the details, but I knew I had to make the first step. So I talked with people around me who were knowledgeable about missions and the needs out there – that was my first step. The next one was finding out where I could go that fit with my heart and skills. I was young, I didn't have many skills, but I did have a few to offer. And that was the start of my journey.
Oh, it isn't easy. No way. I don't want you to misunderstand my ideas on this. It isn't a walk in the park, but wow, His faithfulness sustains and carries us. Even if it is in the darkest valleys you can imagine, He walks with us through it and gives joy. I would rather be walking in obedience, than running and ignoring the call. Getting on that escalator can seem scary and overwhelming, but what about never going? Isn't disobedience just as scary?
This last year I met two people who heard that call 30 years ago, and ignored it. They got married, they lived their lives and both knew they had ignored what had been asked of them. They stayed at the beginning of the escalator never knowing where it could have taken them.
I remember at one stage, when I was studying, questioning if I had been called to the nations. I asked a close friend who responded with, “How can He not have called you? He was clear, ‘go in to all the world...'”
So if you have that pull, you have heard that call, don't put it off. Sure you might be scared, but take the step. Find out more information about people who don't know the GOOD NEWS, those who are unreached and see how you can fit in to what He is doing.