I married young. Just months after graduating from college, I wed my high school sweetheart, my best friend. We loaded the U-Haul with all our worldly possessions—basically our wedding gifts and some hand-me-down furniture from my in-laws—and moved 12 hours away from our families. It was an exciting time, for sure. But I was also apprehensive.
I had become a Christian during my freshman year of college, so at the start of our marriage I was still a relatively new believer. My husband, on the other hand, had grown up in a strong Christian family and now felt called to full-time ministry. We were in the first stage of the ministry training God had planned for us. Ben was to begin a pastoral apprenticeship at a large church, and together we would be working with the college students.
So I was, in effect, a pastor’s-wife-in-training. I felt exceedingly ill-equipped for the role. I knew next to nothing about most of the Bible, I was trying to figure out what it meant to be a godly wife, and I was just beginning my study of the domestic arts (my failed dinner attempts had landed us at McDonald’s on more than one occasion). How could I be a godly example to these college girls when I was still learning the basics myself? It seemed God could have found much better “pastor’s wife material” than me at my husband’s elite Christian college.
Fear of Failure
Fears plagued me as I considered my new role. What if I were to meet with a young woman and have no idea how to answer her questions? So many of these college students were attending Bible schools and probably knew far more about Scripture than I did. What did I have to offer? I felt I had so much to learn before God could really use me. But he had called me to this time and place, and now here I was, frantically trying to find the book of Jonah before someone realized I had no clue.
God often stretches us beyond what we think is possible. He calls us to tasks that seem greater than our capabilities. If you’re in a place of insecurity today, wondering how you’re going to handle the assignment given to you, remember three things.
1. God Is Patient with Insecure Saints
We’re not alone when we feel insufficient for whatever God has called us to do. The Bible gives us numerous examples of saints who doubted their capabilities. At the beginning of Exodus, Moses is called to a daunting task. From a burning bush God hands him the responsibility of delivering the Israelites from Egypt—more than 2 million of them.
But Moses doesn’t respond with a lot of enthusiasm. Instead, he questions God’s call on his life: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exod. 3:11)? God patiently responds that he will be with Moses, giving him the power and grace to deliver the people. When Moses doubts his ability as a public speaker (Exod. 4:10), God sends Aaron to speak on his behalf. He even allows Moses the ability to perform miracles to conquer the Israelites’ unbelief—a staff that becomes a serpent, a cloak that heals a leprous hand.
Moses’s successor, Joshua, also despaired over his ability to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. Esther feared approaching the king, knowing it was a risk to her life. But through her obedience, God saved the entire nation.
2. God Will Equip Us
Just as God equipped Moses to lead the Israelites with Aaron and his staff, just as God kept his promise to give Joshua victory over the Canaanites, just as God gave Esther the courage to go before the king, he will also equip us for the tasks he gives us. As Paul puts it, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). God doesn’t call us to something only to leave us to fend for ourselves. He is with us, he provides for us, and he enables us to finish the assignment.
3. God Enables Us to Cast off Fear with Trust
How do you respond when God calls you to something that seems beyond your reach? When we argue or doubt or complain, we’re failing to trust the God who promises to be with us and equip us. We think we know our capabilities and capacities, but God loves to stretch us beyond what we think possible.
Maybe you’re given a new assignment at work that seems overwhelming. Maybe you just took a pregnancy test and realized you’re expecting again when your first baby isn’t yet walking. Or maybe you’re asked to lead a Bible study when you feel you’re ill-equipped. Whatever the calling may be, God wants us to remember the same thing he told Moses: he will be with us. He will equip us. As he famously commanded Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
If God has clearly called us to the task, he will see that we carry it through. He will give us the grace and the tools needed to accomplish the assignment. Maybe not perfectly—in fact, certainly not—but all he asks is our service, leaving the outcome to him.
This is an adapted excerpt from Stacy Reaoch’s new book, Wilderness Wanderings: Finding Contentment in the Desert Times of Life (Cruciform Press, 2017).