A couple of years ago, when we began feeling led into full-time ministry, we seriously started wrestling with what that meant for our family. We had built a life that was marked by comfort and security and it seemed that all that could be in jeopardy. As a father, it was hard for me to come to the point of surrendering that type of life for my family especially when the call seemed to be into foreign missions.
- What would the future hold for us?
- How could I pull my kids away from great opportunities and activities they loved?
- Would my wife end up resenting me for taking our family away from the only life they have ever known?
These were real fears that forced me to my knees and into the Word searching for direction. Growing up in church, as I have mentioned before, was a great gift of which I am extremely thankful. At the same time I know that it has had a tendency to lead me towards complacency in some areas of my walk with Christ. One of the biggest areas I have struggled through is taking the Word of God for granted and not approaching it as the living and active sword that it is.
While wrestling through the fear and anxiety of uprooting my family I came across a reference that I have probably read a few dozen times throughout my life but this time it cut me in such a way that required in-depth surgery to repair.
This verse had an amazing impact on my heart when I finally grasped what was being said within the context. This is a prayer by Peter surrounded by friends and families, all with the same heart and desire to see God glorified above everything, even their own personal comfort and security. Say What? The early church was gripped by the value of knowing God and making Him known through the person and work of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that, even in the face of persecution, all they desired was the strength to continue proclaiming His supreme worth.
I feel like if I would have been in that situation, facing constant threats of physical punishment, I would have been more inclined to pray for safety rather than boldness. In fact I know that is true because I have been doing it all my life, even without threats of persecution for my faith. I am always praying for God to keep me safe and watch over me rather than praying for what I truly need: BOLDNESS to see God glorified at the expense of my personal comfort. The truth is that my prayer for safety is in essence a prayer of selfishness and pride that highlights me as the most important figure in my life and in the world around me.
Now, I am not saying that we shouldn't pray for God's protection over ourselves or our family, and in fact God delights in giving us that gift (James 1:17; Matthew 7:11). The conviction that came upon me through Acts 4:29 was that I had been holding the good gifts of security and comfort as an ultimate need. Selfishly, I was placing my well-being above the responsibility given to me, and every other confessing believer in Christ, which is to hold God as supremely valuable in comparison to all things.
The prayer for boldness can take different forms with the same end goal. For these first century Christians, the prayer for boldness was to stand against the threat of physical persecution and show God as most valuable. Today, my prayer for boldness is to stand against the threat of comfort and security, which can lead to spiritual death, and hold my relationship with God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit as supremely valuable.
The reality is that God hasn't called me or anyone to comforts and security. He has called us to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind (Matthew 22:37) even if that means giving up some really good gifts in the process. We have felt the call of God to GO, and if we aren't willing to boldly walk away from our comforts, with joy, how could we say that He is our supreme treasure. Furthermore, how can we teach our kids that God is their supreme treasure if they are not seeing it in us.
"God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through." - Francis Chan
This quote by Francis Chan was such an eye opening statement for me. It carries the weight of Acts 4:29 and has become my cry for boldness. I want to step out of my comforts and rely completely on the grace of God to come through for me and my family. While I would love for that grace to be shown to us by the gift of security, ultimately I want God to be glorified through my life and our family. I want my kids to look at my life and see clearly that the glory of God was my supreme value and that I walked boldly towards that end with every step of my life with a heart of joy.
Here's the best part, after the prayer for boldness by the early church in Acts 4, something amazing happens that we see in verse 31...God Shows Up.