By Reverend Darryl R. Williams
Pastor St. Mark A.M.E. Church
Then the Lord said to Abram, leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and all the people of the earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:3).
I once read a story about a dog that was confined to a yard by an electric fence.
The fence had a buried cable that would cause a shock to the dog emanating from its collar if he got too close to the fence. So the dog stayed confined to the yard. One day the dog saw two puppies frolicking and playing by a bay near the yard. The dog longingly looked, but knew what would happen if he crossed over the buried cable – “zap.” The realization of what would occur was too much of a risk, so sadly he stayed in his place. When an observer mentioned it the next day to the dog’s owner, the owner replied,” we had that wire turned off several years ago.”
The dog was trained to stay within the boundaries of the yard. Nobody was keeping him back but himself! Too often we miss out on reaching the destiny that God has for us and nobody is holding us back but ourselves. We could have written the book, we could have gotten the degree, we could have moved up further than we did in our respective professions, we could have realized our dreams, but we held ourselves back. Oh, and this truth is not just to be applied personally, but corporately also.
The church still can be a light burning, devil chasing, difference making, soul winning institution, but often times we are not because we hold ourselves back.
I see so many people living beneath their potential, until you could describe it as an epidemic. Potential is nothing unless it is fulfilled. When God called Abram, He was calling him to become Abraham-father of the multitudes. He called the man as he was, but challenged him to be what He saw in him. Don’t ever confuse your present situation with your future destiny. They are not the same – unless you want them to be. God is calling us to higher ground.
“My heart has no desire to stay Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where these abound
My Prayer, My Aim is high Ground”
You can’t get there wallowing in comfort, ease, satisfaction, and status quo. The road to your destiny is in obeying the call of God, which often times means stepping into the unknown, but trusting that God will lead you.
Abram is a model of what it means to trust God. Abram lived well in the Ur of Chaldees. He was a rich man. He was comfortable. Genesis Chapter 13:2 says Abram had become very wealthy in livestock, silver and gold. Nonetheless, when God called him to leave Ur of Chaldees, he left.
Often times God will call us to leave that which is comfortable and enter into a journey, where many times, you can’t even see the next step. But it is that journey of trust that leads us to our destiny. It’s easy to sing “Be not dismayed whatever betide, God will take care of you,” when you are comfortable. But can you sing it when you left a job behind, entered into school, took on a new spiritual challenge, let go of some old baggage, let some associates go, took leadership in some endeavor that’s going to impact lives?
Abram stepped out believing that God would take care of him. Do you believe God will take care of you?
When is the last time you took a risk because you knew it was God urging you to do so and you did it believing that He would never guide where He does not provide?
Abram trusted even after leaving his home and getting out there and seeing that it appeared better had he stayed. Abram left his comfort zone after God promised, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you, I will make your name great and you will be a blessing…”
But, often times there’s a gap between the promise and the fulfillment of the promise. Abram got out there and there was the reality of he and his wife’s old bodies. There was second guessing, So much so that he gave in to any hope of it ever occurring, so he knew Hagar. In all he waited 25 years before the fulfillment of the promise. My friends, on more than a few occasions, it will appear that trusting God is not worth it, it’s safer to stay in your comfort zone. But whatever God promised, God is able to perform. Abram left and after 25 years he saw the beginnings of the manifestation of the promise. Some don’t know the provision of God because they never put themselves in a position where they’ve got to trust God for his provision. They never leave their comfort zones! I know I can sing:
Be not dismayed
God will take care of you
Beneath his wings of
God will take care of you…
Because, I stepped out of mine. What about you? Is that hymn rhetoric or reality?
Abram was asked to go into a land in which he knew not, and he did it. He stepped out.
Moses was asked to lead people and all he ever led was sheep; he did it. He stepped out.
Noah was asked to build an ark in a land that did not know rain; he did it. He stepped out.
Nehemiah stepped out when the city walls needed to be rebuilt.
David stepped out when a giant needed to be slain.
Joshua stepped out when battles needed to be fought and the people needed leadership to make the final leg into the promise land.
Ruth stepped out when God needed a testimony of loyalty.
Job stepped out when God needed a testimony of patience.
Isaiah, Jeremiah and the rest of the prophets stepped out when God needed prophets. And, Jesus stepped out when the world needed a Savior! God needs some saints who are willing to step out of their comfort zones.
John Maxwell says in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, that at some point in our lives we have to determine whether we want security or significance.
An all too common scenario is a person who has it all – money, nice home, nice car, every toy or gadget you can think about, but few people are better because they live. Abram had security but God was calling him into a life of significance.
…I will make your name great
And you will be a blessing…
There’s no significance in comfort zones! We don’t have services of celebration for people who stayed in their comfort zones. We have funerals. God calls us out of where we are because he is more concerned with us living lives of significance. Abram became the father of a new nation. Hebrews 11 mentions him as a member of the ‘Hall of Faith,’ Romans 4 mentions him as an example of faith, and in Acts 7
Stephen explains to the High Priest who are about to stone him that he is the pioneer of our faith all because he chose significance over security.
I think heaven is a pretty secure place. God’s will is done there. The angels reside there. Revelations says that there is no dying there, no pain, no suffering and the Sabbath has no end. But aren’t you glad Jesus left there, took on the characteristics of a man, suffered and even died because he chose significance over security?
God says, I will make your name “great”, and I will “bless you.” Many have always known average, mediocre, fair, alright, okay, but they have never known greatness. Greatness and blessings are contingent upon you leaving your comfort zone.
John Maxwell also talks about the “law of the rubber band.” “The law of the rubber band” says we are larger than we currently appear and can reach our maximum capacity if we allow God to stretch us. A rubber band is of no use in its un-stretched state. It was made to be stretched.
Abram was a rich man in Ur of Chaldees, but he was un-stretched. He was secure, but un-stretched; loved God, but un-stretched; loved his kinfolk, but un-stretched. As long as we are un-stretched, we have no idea of what can be. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us satisfied with being un-stretched! I’ll do just enough, but never beyond it; I’ll give just enough, but never beyond it; I’ll serve just enough, but never beyond it; I’ll learn just enough, love just enough, but never beyond it.
The call of God is a call to be stretched, because He’s more concerned with your reaching your potential than He is your comfort.
He looked at Abram and He saw a great nation, He saw a great man. Too many people limit you and see you for who you are – you are a drop-out, you are a 9 to 5 worker, you are an addict, you are a quitter…but God looks at you and sees what you can become. I’m so glad I don’t have to listen to people telling me who I am , rather, I can listen to God telling me who I can become. So Abraham tuned in to radio station G.O.D. that day emanating from heaven and he heard:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you I will make your name great I will bless those who bless you And curse those who curse you And all the nations of the earth will be blessed Because of you.”
Stop listening to voices that would limit, stymie, thwart and frustrate you. Tune into God who wants to take you higher and make you great.
God looked at Abraham and saw a pioneer, God looked at Moses and saw a leader, God looked at Saul and saw an evangelist, God looked at Simon and saw an apostle, God looked at Barack Obama and saw a president, and God looked at a Cardinal from South America and saw a Pope… Whenever God looks at us, He sees greatness.
The greatness is totally dependent upon you allowing God to stretch you.
On my desk are a number of rubber-bands.
I keep them in a box in one of the drawers of my desk.
Every now and then I’ll take one out and stretch it around some pencils or pens to keep them together.
My intent in stretching the rubber-band is to use it. Sometimes we think God is trying to hurt us when he stretches us, but all God wants to do, is use us.
Don’t be unused, tucked away and in a box (like my rubber-bands). Allow God to stretch you.
It’s not the rubber-bands in the box that are useful, but the ones being stretched.
I grew up in a family of seven. I saw my mother make food stretch.
You didn’t throw away anything. After Thanksgiving, the turkey turned into turkey stew, turkey soup, turkey casserole, and turkey sandwiches. She knew how to get maximum use so that all of her children were blessed. That’s all God did with Abram. He stretched him by challenging him to leave his comfort zone so that many would be blessed.
Leave your country
Leave your people
Leave your father’s house
And go to a land I will show you.
I will make you into
a great nation
And I will bless you…
And all the people of the earth will be blessed
Because of you.
Are you ready to leave your comfort zone? Everything God wants for you are beyond your comfort zone.
There’s greatness out there, there’s blessings out there, there’s joy out there, there’s fulfillment out there. Your destiny is out there. Are you ready to grasp it?
“Brothers and sisters this one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind me And straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal To win the prize for which God has called me heavenward
In Christ Jesus”
Reverend Darryl R.
St. Mark A.M.E. Church
1616 West Atkinson Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53206
Office: (414) 562-8030
Fax: (414) 562-1109