Day after day, and year after year, we put one foot in front of the other as we flee the wreckage of our sin and follow Jesus on the path of life. We step away from self-protection toward love, away from darkness toward light, away from foolishness toward wisdom. Step after step after step — ten million times.
“David had many life-changing encounters with God. His personal history is absolutely filled with incredible miracles and testimonies of the Lord’s mighty power. And yet this shepherd/king—the man after God’s own heart—did not wait around for another experience before He sought God. In his joy, in his pain, in his sorrow, and in his confusion, Scripture shows us a man who decided to set the Lord always before Him. In short, David was a man who said yes to God. Even when he fell into grievous sin, he said yes to God through repentance.” ― Michael Brown, The Fire that Never Sleeps: Keys to Sustaining Personal Revival
Leave fear behind. Move forward in faith. Embrace the adventure.
We’ve all been there, tempted to pull back and hide when we were wounded, disappointed, or disillusioned. When we faced failure or endured another heartache. When we suffered a loss that was more than we felt we could bear. When we made promises to ourselves that we’d never let such pain happen to us again. But we can’t keep those kinds of promises. Not if we want to step into all of God’s promises. Not if we want to live with all the passion he placed inside of us. Not if we want to fulfill the purpose and destiny he has for us.
We cannot shrink back in fear and go forward in faith at the same time. We cannot settle for our less and pursue his more at the same time. It’s just not possible.
What is possible is accepting his gracious invitation to trust him more in the face of our pain. To move into a deeper intimacy with him and let him heal our hearts. To develop relentless faith so that the next time life throws us a curve ball—which life most certainly will—we are able to bat it out of the park and still live the adventure he’s planned for us. And maybe we’ll even live a version of the adventure that’s beyond what we could ever have hoped or imagined—all because of the unexpected that interrupted our lives in the first place.
I believe with all my heart that it’s possible for every Christian to learn how to live with a faith so confident in God, it can’t be shaken—even when the ground underneath is giving way. That’s what Abraham did. God extended to him the same invitation he extends to us—to trust with all his heart—and Abraham said yes, even though he had no idea where his yes would lead. He willingly stepped into the unexpected without knowing where he was going, who he would meet, or what it might cost. He didn’t know any of the pain that might lie ahead, but he knew God would be with him. He knew God would guide him, protect him, and provide for him—and he refused to be shaken:
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. HEBREWS 11: 8, emphasis added
Like Abraham, I know what it feels like to go forth not knowing where I’m going. To risk it all and trust God with an unknown future. Through the years of my Christian walk, I’ve gone from volunteering in a local youth ministry in my early twenties, to running a global anti-trafficking organization in twelve nations, to continuing to launch new initiatives into my fifties. I’ve gone from living in Australia where I started in ministry, married, and had children, to moving our ministry base to the United States. I have repeatedly stepped into unexpected places, only to find myself accomplishing unexpected ventures, and seeing God turn up in the most unexpected ways—all because I said yes every single time, even when I didn’t have any idea where it would lead.
Since I surrendered my life fully to Jesus, he’s been teaching me unshakeable faith. Relentless faith. Unwavering faith. Teaching me to trust him more every time he asks. Teaching me to embrace the unexpected. He’s been cultivating in me the same kind of faith that propelled Abraham further into his destiny as the father of Isaac, and ultimately the father of many nations. The same kind of faith that led Abraham to trust God more, even in the face of sheer hopelessness:
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. ROMANS 4: 18–21
When God gave Abraham such an outlandish and unexpected promise, he simply believed God’s promise—he risked hope against all rational hope. He didn’t deny the facts of his circumstances, but he refused to believe they were the whole truth because they did not account for God’s promise. He did not waver or doubt, and because of that, his faith grew even stronger. When, at last, Isaac was born, Abraham gave all the glory to God.
Imagine the difference we could make if we learned to face the unexpected in our lives as Abraham did. If we learned to do the unexpected while facing the unexpected. What if we believed instead of feared in the face of the unknown? What if we courageously moved through loss and disappointment, believing God has purpose for it on the other side? What if we got up every day believing God for the best, knowing we might possibly encounter the worst?
I believe we can live this expectantly—this hopefully, this freely, this faith-filled—in the face of everything that comes our way. Even the unexpected. When I planned this book, I didn’t realize how timely it would be. How on point it would be for all we’re grappling with in the world today. From the day I reviewed the outline with our publisher until the day it went to press, the news reports have been filled with the unexpected, with shocking events that are hard to understand and can sometimes shake our faith:
- An active shooter at a school, church, or concert
- A car racing down a sidewalk intentionally targeting pedestrians—not just in one city, but in multiple cities
- History-making hurricanes devastating millions of lives
- A demonstration intended to unite that only divides
- Another suicide bomber in a crowded market or arena
- A government leader’s disappointing choices
- The passing of laws contradicting our values or beliefs
- A UNESCO World Heritage site left in ruins
- Another genocide.
Some days these events seem so far away, and other days they hit way too close to home. In all these situations, God wants us to be faith-filled believers shining the light of Christ in a dark world. He wants us to learn how to walk with confidence through every unexpected challenge life throws our way—not only so we can be a powerful testimony to others, but also so we can develop a more intimate relationship with Him ourselves.
When we went back to Australia for my mum’s funeral, I stood at her graveside service watching her casket being lowered into the ground, and all I could think was, I’m next. It wasn’t a depressing or morbid thought. It was just a realization of the natural order of life. Typically, you first bury your grandparents, then your parents, and then, you’re the next generation to go. That thought stayed with me for days, and it made me more determined than ever to make my life count. To be sure I was doing all that God had called me to do. To lead as many souls to Jesus as I possibly can. It made me resolute in my commitment to Christ, to walk by faith, and to embrace the unexpected. Even during the season of writing this book, God challenged me again, inviting me to let him heal a wound so deep I didn’t know it was there.
Through that tender story, other stories from my life, as well as those of dear friends, I’ll share what I’ve learned about how to walk by faith in hopes that you might better understand how fear attacks and how you can overcome its debilitating effects—no matter how heartbreaking the unexpected is. Whether . . .
- A life-threatening diagnosis
- A cutting relational wound
- Deepening disappointment
- A tidal wave of relentless losses
- A purposeless season of life
- A hidden hurt yet to be healed
On the pages ahead, I can’t wait to introduce you to my friends, Adrian and Jayne, Amanda and LoriAnn, Kylie and Laura. They are ordinary people doing extraordinary things because, when faced with the unexpected, they accepted God’s invitation to trust him more and walk in greater faith. They are real people who were willing to be vulnerable, to let me share their stories, to help you to keep moving forward—from where you are to where God wants you to go.
I have no doubt this book is in your hands because God has a life of adventure planned for you. I know he created you on purpose, for a purpose—and he never wants fear of the unexpected or from the unexpected to hold you back. So, as you read this book, as you allow the Holy Spirit to light your path, let’s go together. Let’s leave fear behind, move forward in faith, and embrace the adventure of the unexpected.