Have you ever heard the expression: “Go out on a limb?” Are you the kind of person who willingly goes out on a limb? When you think about it, that can be a scary notion; going out on a limb requires a level of trust. My daughter used to love to climb trees when she was little, but thankfully she always stuck to the thick, sturdy branches so that my heart didn’t have to beat quite as fast while she was up there and I was down on the ground yelling at her to be careful. Being careful in our lives, though, can mean that we might miss God’s calling.
Sometimes, our spiritual lives can be a lot like tree climbing. Exciting and invigorating at first, but as we get higher up there, it can be a little frightening. Our tendency is to just build a nice, comfortable nest and settle in. Where would be, however, if Abraham did that? In Genesis 12:1 God says to Abraham “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” Abraham was at the very beginning of his relationship with God. Asking him to leave everything he ever knew and go to a land (without directions, mind you) that this God would show him was definitely going to require Abraham to go out on a limb. Abraham must have wondered -What if God abandoned him and his family perished? What if God wasn’t good? Abraham must have looked at this new branch in his spiritual life with much hesitation. Thankfully, he trusted God. He stepped out onto that fragile limb holding onto nothing but faith. In Genesis 13:16 God reveals Abraham’s destiny…“ I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.” Abraham became the patriarch of our faith.
Another good example of going out on a limb would be Noah. God looks at the wickedness of the earth and decides to destroy all the people. He tells Noah to build an ark in order to save his family and all the animals of the earth. Now, Noah had a relationship with God that surpassed that of anyone on earth at the time. However, I imagine that God’s detailed instructions and prophecy of destruction would have caused even Noah great concern. God was calling him to go out on a limb that looked pretty flimsy. But in Genesis 7:5 we read “And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.” Noah and his family survive the destruction while everyone else on earth perished. Noah’s calling was to repopulate the world as God gave people a second chance.
Finally, let’s look at the example of Jesus calling His disciples. Talk about going out on a limb! “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he [Jesus] saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18-19) Now wait a minute here. These two men were just minding their own business, perfectly comfortable in their spiritual nest, casting their nets, doing what they know how to do when this guy comes along and tells them to follow him. They don’t even know Jesus at this point. Can you imagine what it would have felt like to go out on a limb and just trust this Rabbi? We read in the very next verse: “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” Jesus doesn’t stop there, though. Matthew 4:21-22 reads “And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” These men left everything they knew when Jesus beckoned them. Going out on a limb with Jesus gave these men a new destiny. We read in Matthew 10:1 “And he [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”
So where are you in your spiritual tree of life? Are you willing to go out on a limb with God? Is He calling you to step out on a branch that looks too weak to hold you? Loved ones, God has shown us in His Word over and over again that if He calls us to go out on a limb that we think is going to break, the truth is that it may only bend. And God knows that your calling just might have an easier time taking flight from the edge of that limb than it ever will if you stay content and safe in your snug, little nest. God’s promise is this: But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)