The charging rhino
There’s an old insurance commercial of a little serene girl and a raging rhinoceros in an African plain. The rhino is in a full head-on-charge collision with the girl. Yet the look on the girl’s face is clear. She has this glint in her eye and a smile on her face.
The camera goes from rhino to girl. The rhino is still charging. The girl is still smiling, standing still and calm.
At the last minute, the rhino puts on the brakes and stops right in front of the girl. The girl leans forward, puts her hand on the horn, and kisses it. Uninjured.
Throughout the commercial, a sentence is slowly put together. Fully assembled, the sentence reads…
Trust is not being afraid even when you’re vulnerable.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been afraid. Oh, I’m not just talking about my fear of snakes, which is very real because snakes are just evil, that’s why! No, I’m talking about the fear that can be present when God asks. Those times are full of unknowns. We can find ourselves asking “What if…” type of questions. And being human beings, we ache for answers that aren’t given beforehand.
I’ve never had God ask me to leave my country and family to go overseas. But He’s asked me to do things that require me to move. For example, I was asked to teach a class for the first time. I was so nervous and afraid that I’d not eat for fear of losing what I’d eat. He’s asked me to go and talk to someone I didn’t want to talk to. He’s asked me to leave jobs or stay at jobs. He’s asked me to take on things I felt I lacked the qualifications to do.
There are others. But one thing common for each is they leave me vulnerable. They put me where it has to be God that supplies. And I trust. I discover this truth each time: God’s asking is always pregnant with the promise of His favor. In other words, He empowers us to accomplish the ask. And the result? The focus is not usually on the ask but on who God wants me to become.
But I still go through this fear phase. Although I’m getting better!
I wonder if Abram was afraid like me. You know, before he was Abraham, the father of many nations? “Mr., I’ve got it all together, name in Hebrews Hall of Faith guy!” Okay, that may be a bit much…Moving on…
The writer of Genesis doesn’t tell us, but I have to think there was some trepidation in Abram’s spirit. Here’s what the author gives us of God’s ask for Abram…
“Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you into a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” So Abram went away as the LORD had spoken to him; Genesis 12:1-4
There are some things that the author tells us. God asks Abram to go to a place he’s never been, from his country, family, and religion (likely polytheistic). God will show him where to go. And if Abram is obedient, God will bless (which means God puts Abram under his protection, care, and in His favor) and make his name great. And he will be a blessing to all the families of the earth. That’s a lot!
But here again, the author doesn’t share much about Abram. We don’t know his pedigree if he was worthy or capable of the task. We don’t know if he had any qualifications or was equipped for what lay ahead.
Abram, at this point, has a choice to make. He’s got to decide if he’s going to abandon the comforts of the familiar in favor of what God is asking, the unfamiliar, leaving him vulnerable. If Abram does, he creates a void, a vacuum of sorts, of where all those things used to be, particularly Abram’s religious practices. If Abram was following the religious practices of where he was, he had many gods/idols that were part of his religious traditions.
So what does Abram do? He decides in favor of God. He answers the challenge and responds obediently to God’s call. It’s a new starting point for Abram, a crossroads, and instead of the same heading, Abram turns toward God, unprepared, unqualified, and void of the comfortable. He’s vulnerable.
And he’s right where God wants him.
God’s best work is in the ask
It’s right here, where Abram is void of previous idols, religious practices, and old habits, that God can fill that void with Himself. It’s where Abram’s vulnerability meets God’s security. His unassailability.
It’s kind of like the girl in the commercial. She stands there, fully vulnerable yet fully trusting. And I think many of us get hung up on what she doesn’t show…fear.
Fear will keep us from who we will become when we say yes to God’s ask. If you notice, and as I’ve tried to point out, there’s little given about who Abram was, only what Abram was to become. And I think God is far more interested in who we are to become and much less interested in who we’ve been.
He’s interested in our yes to His ask because it’s in obedience we’re left vulnerable and void so God can fill them. We don’t have what we need ourselves to accomplish God’s ask.
God’s provision is IN the ask…and we won’t see how it all works out and the steps to get there. It wouldn’t be called faith if we could. Faith is defined as the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. (See Hebrews 11:1)
Some of God’s best work is done IN the ask when we respond obediently. It’s never asking,
- “Am I good enough?”
- “Do I have the talent?”
- “Do I have the skill?”
Let me just say all three of those were the questions and answers I gave to the person who first asked me to teach a small group in 2005. I flat out said, “I’m not good enough, talented enough, and definitely not skilled enough.”
God wasn’t interested in who I was or what I couldn’t do. He was interested in who he wanted me to be. And He still is.
Not everyone is a teacher
Don’t think that’s what I just meant. That was simply my experience. But the principle applies to any time God asks. Our tendency is to look within and see the lack of resources. But we miss what God’s up to when we only look at what we’ve got.
You see, God is always more interested in who we’re becoming, not who we’ve been. He’s more interested in developing in us the character of His Son, Jesus. He’s more interested in getting into us more of His Spirit. He’s more interested in empowering our hearts and hands when we say yes to His ask.
He’s more interested in us being like that little girl. Vulnerable.
I don’t know where you’re at with all this. I do know that God’s provision and promise are carried with His ask. So…what’s He asking of you? What is it that you’ve put off, made excuses for, or stored away until you feel you’re ready? Maybe it’s time to look again. Perhaps it’s time for a yes to God’s ask.
Because When God asks…
I’ll let you fill in the rest.
You are loved!