“scary awesome”

A friend once described stepping into God’s call on her life at a specific point as “scary awesome.” I think that is an apt description of many experiences which vacillate between these two characterizations.

Scary describes things that cause fright or alarm. Circumstances are unnerving or intimidating. Joseph found himself in Egypt after his brothers sold him into slavery. Scary is being far from home, accused and punished for something you didn’t do, and forgotten in prison. The widow of Zarephath and her son faced death, but she shared the last of their food with Elijah. Surely, she feared for her child. Scary is also intimidating. As the Israelites watched the Egyptian army approaching while they faced the Red Sea, things looked impossible…and scary. The disciples hid after Jesus was crucified and buried. Doubts must have mixed with fear as they faced an uncertain and potentially dangerous future.

Awesome, on the other hand, depicts things that are amazing, breathtaking, miraculous, stunning, and wonderful. Easily more fun than “scary,” it is often the flip side of scary adventures with God. Joseph (Gen 37-50) was vindicated, found freedom in forgiving his brothers, and saw God miraculously save his family and a nation. The widow (1 Kings 17) ate from meager food items far longer than possible and later received her child back from the dead. As Moses was obedient to God’s unusual instructions, the Israelites were saved, and the Egyptian army perished (Exodus 14). The disciples became eye-witnesses to the resurrected Jesus. Acts records the ministry of the scared disciples now sharing the message of the Gospel as bold Apostles.

Following God, for individuals recorded in Scripture, and for contemporary believers will always require mixing scary and awesome. Obedience to God is always scary because we are called outside our abilities. If we could do it in our own strength, with our own skills and knowledge, stepping out in faith would not be required, and then we would miss the awesome when God does what we could not do…ever.

Joseph realized following God requires trusting that He is working on our behalf when we don’t see it. When our circumstances don’t seem to change, or start looking worse, can we trust God to work behind the scenes to rescue or redeem our situation? The widow of Zarephath learned that sometimes, God expects great sacrifice. We are rarely called to give the last of our food and face death, but God may require that we give up poor attitudes, sinful behaviors, and may ask us to cut off friends or even a job that pulls us away from being obedient to God. The Israelites faced impossible odds while they were being obedient. It didn’t just look like things were getting worse, they clearly were. Sometimes, we find ourselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place like them. Can we have faith that when we follow God, He will make a way when none seems obvious? For the disciples, their future plans died along with Jesus. They looked back at old plans (fishing) but found out the death of one phase only opened the next. Can we have faith that when our dreams die, God may use the situation to bring new life and plans from the rubble?

The Bible characters were ordinary men and women, just like us. Following God in obedience, faith, and trust was not easier for them. So, my friend is right. Take that step of faith because it’s worth the risk. Following God IS “Scary Awesome.”

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