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Being a Girl Who Serves

Bethany House Publishers

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Faith: A Risky Business

By Shannon Kubiak Primicerio A few nights ago I was sitting at my desk, working at my computer and sipping apple cider. As I reached for my mug I happened to read what was written on it for the first time in years. It said: Faith is risking what is for what is yet to be. It's taking small steps, knowing they lead to bigger ones.

After reading that I couldn't just continue what I had been doing. I sat for a moment and pondered its message. Faith is risking what is for what is yet to be ... Hmm ... What is could be a lot of things. It could be popularity, security, stability, friendships, or a relationship with a certain guy.

What is God asking you to risk? Even the most adventurous of us don't really like risk. We'd rather be comfortable. We'd rather play it safe. We'd rather be protected. But someone wise recently told me, "God likes risk because risk involves faith, and faith is God's business."

Sometimes it is extremely hard to risk what is for what is yet to be because we do not know what the yet to be is exactly. We like guarantees and bottom lines. We like familiar things, secure things, and definite things. We live in a world that operates on schedules and contracts so we can always be sure about what is going to happen and when.

You go to school and know what classes you need to take in order to graduate. You know what classes will get you into what colleges, and what colleges will best help you to pursue certain sports scholarships or professions. We are people who plan. Even procrastinators are people who plan -- they just plan to get it done eventually.

But life is like two mountains and a bridge. One mountain is today, and the other is tomorrow. And each day we have to walk across the bridge of risk in order to get to the next day. Waking up and stepping out of bed is a risk. Getting in a car and driving down the road is a risk. Reaching out to people and establishing friendships is a risk.

What are we risking our lives for?

So the question is not whether or not we take risks in our lives. The question is: What are we risking our lives for? Is your life a series of pointless risks? Do you run across the bridge of risk every day with absolutely nothing of value waiting for you on the mountaintop of tomorrow? Do you ever live on that bridge you cross? Do you just simply let life happen to you, or do you listen for the voice that says, "Go"?

Isaiah 30:21 says: "And your ears will hear a voice behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left." When was the last time you heard that voice?

When Michael and I were dating, he spent a semester away at a Bible college in Israel--well, he spent almost an entire semester there. God chose to call him back home to the States a little early. Here's what happened.

About a month before Michael was due to come home, he sat in the terminal at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv getting ready to go on a weekend jaunt to Greece with some classmates, and butterflies began to dance in his stomach. He watched everyone around him laugh and joke with one another as they prepared to board the plane.

He held his cell phone in his hands and ran his thumb over the caller ID screen. Lord, what do I do? His prayer was silent, but his soul seemed to be screaming at him. God had shown him clearly in his quiet time that morning that he was to come home and tend to a few things there. But he wanted to take one more trip. Greece was his last foreign adventure, he promised himself and God. After Greece he would go home.

Meanwhile, I was back in the United States talking with our friend Bryan. With danger increasing for Americans in the midst of Yasser Arafat's looming death, we both thought it was time for Michael to come home. Judging by the warnings being issued from the U.S. Embassy, they agreed with us.

So I called Michael and asked him one last time, "Are you sure you are supposed to go to Greece?" He said yes, so I let it go and told him to have fun and said good-bye. When I hung up Bryan looked at his watch and asked, "How much longer until he boards?" When I told him he had about half an hour, he said, "Let's pray that God prevents him from getting on that plane if we are right and he really is supposed to come home." I agreed--although I didn't have much faith that the prayer would be answered. I watched the clock for the next half hour and nothing happened. There was no phone call, so I got ready for bed.

What I didn't know was that, as everyone else got in line to board the plane, Michael told the ticket lady he could not get on the plane and requested that his luggage be removed immediately. He said a quick good-bye to his shocked roommates and stunned professor and told them that his semester had just ended early and he was going home--not back to their apartment in Jerusalem, but back home to the United States. He would make arrangements with the director of the Bible college immediately, he assured them.

It was late at night on a Thursday in the United States and I had just gotten out of the shower when my phone rang. Startled, I answered and heard Michael's broken voice shouting and crying on the other side of the world. Mind you, I thought he was already half way to Greece.

"Love, I'm coming home," he said frantically. "God showed me very clearly to come home. I was reading about when He told Abraham to get out of his country and I knew God was speaking to me and I didn't listen. I have a flight booked for Sunday--it was the quickest one I could get. Can you pick me up?"

Tears streamed down my cheeks as the news that Michael's semester abroad was almost over finally sunk in. As we spoke on the phone, explosions could be heard in the distance. God had indeed spoken to Michael in his quiet time, and He spoke to Bryan and me, burdening us to pray.

And what happened from the moment he decided not to board the plane to Greece until the moment he got home was proof enough for any skeptic. Not only did the strict Israeli airlines remove his bag from the plane (without suspecting anything suspicious), they rushed him back through customs with no hassle (and he always gets hassled because of his deeply tanned Italian skin and ethnic-looking appearance) and took him right to a ticket counter and applied the amount of his unused ticket (which was paid for by his school with his tuition money) to his ticket home. The total amount he owed was exactly what he had left on his credit card, so he charged it, and two days later I was picking him up at the airport.

Shortly after Michael came home some key pieces were put into place that would greatly shape the next several years of our life together. We decided that the assumed plan of his taking a full-time ministry position in our hometown was not God's will for us, and slowly everything was set in motion to move him back into the secular work force where he could be used in a greater way at that time. Within one week of Michael's homecoming we got engaged, and God began to piece together His amazing plan for us. It would not have come together the same way had Michael waited another month to come home.

But Michael did not rush through his decision in the airport. He had been asking God if it was time for him to come home ever since the U.S. Embassy began issuing warnings a few weeks earlier. Safety was not his primary concern, but obedience was. God confirmed His call for Michael to come home early in Scripture and used Bryan and me (and our prayers) to lead Michael into making a decision that was right for him.

Make sure that in all of the risks you feel the Lord asking you to take, you make wise choices and do not do anything rash. Look for Him to confirm things in His Word and through the counsel of other godly people.

Small Steps Lead to Bigger Ones

Faith is about more than taking risks. The other half of the saying that was on my cider mug was: Faith is taking small steps, knowing they lead to bigger ones. Maybe today, as a student, you cannot run out and become a full-time missionary or find a cure for cancer. But you can take small steps toward what you know God is calling you to do in the future. You can go on short-term mission trips or do something as simple as taking classes in school that will help prepare you for whatever it is God is calling you to do.

We're not all called to be foreign missionaries. You can be a missionary on your school campus or at your job at the yogurt shop. Someday you can be a missionary in your career. Maybe your go is to simply go and talk to one other person about your faith. But in the end it is all of the little steps of obedience that prepare you for the bigger ones. And that's where submission comes into the picture.

My friend Hana really did work at a yogurt shop. She made an incredible impact on the people working at the Subway sandwich shop next door by simply sharing her faith with them and inviting them to church with her when she saw them at work. She took advantage of an incredible opportunity that many of us wouldn't have even noticed. These people saw something in Hana that they wanted. They didn't all take her up on the offer to come to youth group, but they came to Hana with questions and always talked about how pleasant she was to be around. It was a simple thing really--but Hana was able to be an outstanding example to these people. The places God asks us to go and the things He asks us to do are not always earth shattering. But they can still make a huge impact for Him.

Amazing things happen when we attempt things that are impossible, downright weird, or seemingly insignificant because God tells us to do it. Life becomes exciting when we dare to take risks that count for something. Servanthood truly is faith and submission. It's taking God at His Word and setting out when you aren't even sure where you are going.

But the awesome thing about not knowing where you are going is that you cannot be afraid of what's going to happen when you get there if you don't even know where there is! And you need not be afraid -- you need not even know where you are going -- as long as you know Whom you are following.

Excerpted fromBeing a Girl Who Serves by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio, copyright © 2006; ISBN 0764200909. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

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