Some of you reading this are standing at the edge of something new and contemplating your first step across the border. I want to remind you that God has already gone before you. Stepping out may stretch your faith, but God is already preparing a way.
The first bold step never comes without challenges. Crossing borders, stepping into new seasons, and walking through open doors will always stretch our faith and challenge our comfort. The moment you step out into a new environment, the adventure begins.
Some people have been crippled so long that it has warped their whole person. The gospel of Luke introduces us to a woman who was stuck for eighteen long years. For almost two decades, she was bent over with severe curvature of her spine so crippling that her daily activities were a constant challenge. No doubt eating, drinking, and even walking were extremely difficult. Constant pain was her everyday companion. Her relationships, her finances, her health, her identity, her spiritual state were all deeply affected by her condition.
While her medical issue was undeniably physical, the root of her problem was spiritual. She had a spiritual problem that affected her soul and her body as well. Luke, the author of this gospel and the book of Acts, was also a doctor, and he uses interesting words to diagnose her condition. He doesn’t use the word that would mean “illness, disease, or injury.” Instead he uses the phrase “crippled by a spirit.”
Scripture says, “When Jesus saw her, he called her forward” (Luke 13:12). Her journey to freedom hinged on her willingness to take the difficult step or responding to the promptings of Jesus. This is one of the most important details in this moving passage. And if you read it quickly, you can miss it altogether. Jesus called her forward. No one with a deformity of any kind wants to step up to the public platform. Jesus is calling a deformed woman out of the shadows into the spotlight. This is a difficult moment, but she responds and takes the first painful step forward. She has to leave the comfort of her hiding place and take the risk of stepping into an uncertain future.
“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity,” Jesus clearly says. “Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God” (Luke 13:12-13).
The woman’s journey to wholeness of body, soul, and spirit began with one bold step forward. Her first step took her out of the shadows and into the vulnerability of her greatest insecurities.
We are so close yet remain so far until we take the step. All of us who are stuck have to wrestle with that first important step.
But the hard steps are where we get stuck. As a church, we had to take the hard step of releasing leaders, groups of people, and resources to start new campuses around the city. The first time we launched a group of people to another community, I had to force myself to celebrate on the outside, but I mourned on the inside. I knew it was the right step, but it was difficult to release close friends. We struggled with feeling like we did not have enough leaders, sufficient finances, or enough expertise to move forward. I have never known a person or organization moving into something new that doesn’t feel nervous or uncertain about the future.
It always starts with a first bold step.
Adapted from What Now?: How to Move Into Your Next Season by Mark Jobe (© 2020). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.
MARK JOBE is the president of Moody Bible Institute and host of Moody Radio’s Bold Steps. He is the author of Unstuck: Out of Your Cave into Your Call. He is also the founding pastor of New Life Community Church, a Chicago-based ministry with 27 locations throughout Chicago. Mark has a Master’s degree from Moody Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in transformational leadership from Bakke Graduate University. He and his wife, Dee, have three adult children.