God likes pushing us past where we’re comfortable.

As a child, I had terrible stage fright. I was shy. Anyone who knew me only ever saw half my face, the other half hidden behind my mom. I joined ballet when I was very young because my best friend, practical sister, was doing ballet.  And for the most part I enjoyed it. I remember coming home so excited to practice on my tap shoes and ballet slippers. As the end of the year drew close, so did the end of the year recital and the growing fear of parading in front of others. 

I never made it past the one year mark. The dreaded recital scared me off each time.

In fifth grade, I managed to make it on stage with my violin class. Only to give up right after, because ‘it was too easy’, when in reality, I didn’t want to get on stage and mess up again on stage.  

But I’ve grown older and wiser and better able to squash these fears. I’ve also become adept at avoiding any that I may fail at, because it’s safer, less embarrassing, easier.

Recently, God’s been pushing at those carefully constructed boundaries, calling me to step out in faith. Reminding me who is really in control of my life. And I am reminded of Joshua

Joshua 1:9 says: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua had some pretty big shoes to fill. I can’t imagine what it must have been like leading the Israelites after Moses, after witnessing Moses’ devotion to God and God’s favor to Moses. He was called to lead a people that was prone to wandering, that had witnessed miracles and provision beyond their understanding, yet still denied God time and time again. 

But God had miracles for Joshua too. He was not finished with His people and He put Joshua in command with words of encouragement. The first few chapters are filled with commands to be brave, strong, courageous. God was not setting Joshua up to fail. God was not leading Joshua to leave him later. God was pushing Joshua to grow, just as He grew the stuttering shepherd in the desert to pull the Israelites out of Egypt and become their leader.

A few months ago, I jokingly made the comment that I could play the piano for the college and young adult band at church. It was said offhandedly. My music abilities ranged from flute lessons in middle school (canceled because I never practiced) and viola in fifth grade (again, didn’t make it past a year). I couldn’t read music. I can’t sing. I can barely clap and sing at the same time on Sundays.

Now, every week on Monday nights, I get up on stage to play basic chords on the piano to lead worship with my fellow band mates. Every week I struggle with the sour notes and missed beats in front of others, revealing my imperfection. Every week I struggle with doubt and fear and nerves about being ‘good enough’.

All in all, it is not comfortable. My five year old self is screaming at me to get off the stage. But God likes pushing us past where we’re comfortable. When we’re not comfortable, we can’t rely on ourselves. When we’re not comfortable, we allow God to move through us, grow us, lead us.

God has not called us to be comfortable. God has not called us to be perfect. He’s called us to have courage. To be strong. To trust that He is with us wherever we may find ourselves.