Doing a Bon Jovi: Livin’ On A Prayer…

The truly miraculous bit about a faith walk with Jesus and God is how personal it gets. This incredibly specific, custom-made, loving relationship. My lesson, as I attempted to explain during my testimony last November, is keeping all my second guessing, flawed, ego self out of the way to actually trust the process.

This year I committed to vulnerability. To opening up ‘me’ to Him. Handing ‘me’ over and saying, “Ok, then, Your will.” Was it easy? Oh no. I’d had an overwhelm of ‘thought creates‘ new age thinking prior to recovering from my Christian hangover. Our society pushes self. The difference between God’s will and my own, before Christianity, is stamped with action and impatience. Door not opening? Well, let me just kick it in.

Waiting on the will of heaven is an art. Of gently nudging on doors and, if they do not open fully, remaining still – rather than running around the side of the building and climbing through the window. It’s like living on a prayer. Doing a Bon Jovi. God either says “Yes” or “Not Yet.”  images

What Jesus has delivered is a relationship that allows me to wait at the door. To cease striving because he has already done the work. Supported by Jesus’ grace it’s easier for me to wait on the will of heaven without feeling frustration at the lack of momentum. I am not defined by my achievements. I am His achievement. His. No matter all that second-guessing, flawed, cage fighting, impatient self. His.

ColdPlay has a lyric about being in the gap between the trapezes that sums up where I am with G&J right now. As I trust, stay planted and grow in Jesus sacrifice, pray and give thanks, the next trapeze handle appears steady under my palms. I often don’t know which direction that trapeze may be swinging from or to, but God is gracious with any wobbly moments. The insistent shoving in my head up levels to a knowing ‘zap’ that signals strongly He is at work. “Draw closer. Trust. I’ve got this,” He tells me.

There is an absolute delight in that. The closer I draw, the better it gets.

As for doubters who would ascribe it to my over-active imagination, I have to say: my imagination isn’t that good. Take this recent unfurling, as I repeated my regular question/prayer to God:

“Why did you hunt me down at forty something years old? I have a range of communication skills. I love leading a team. I know I can build up a business and serve clients. But, really, is that all? I can keep blogging and try to keep writing about all that is lost in translation when it comes to You, but it seems a little limited,” I prayed.

(This is where I am very glad God knows me so intimately and understands His wiring me to think bigger and at a million miles an hour, because did I just tell Him this is a little limited?!?)

I continued: “Blogging is great (5000 readers and counting so far this year, thank you) but wouldn’t it be great to reach further? Like when I worked in radio. Although that’s been over 20 years so I’m probably a bit out of the career space of radio. Plus, you know, the kids are still at school. So if You do have any plans for me, I’d love to stay close to home. But your will not mine. Over to you. But, please, can you make it really clear? You know I need flashing neon signs. Sorry about that. Thank you. Amen.”

The very next morning a job advert landed in my inbox. A global Christian charity was advertising for a leader, to manage a team, work with the CEO and raise the organisation’s profile. Reach further? It radio broadcasts to over 3 billion listeners across the globe. Oh, and local?  Its head office is less than 9km from my home. Hang on, didn’t I just pray about all of this? Really?

I downloaded the job description, read it and, inelegant as is sounds, almost vomited with the adrenalin surge. God zapped into my head: ‘If you apply, Phil, you will get it.”

I wish I could say I smiled and calmly accepted God’s will. Whilst I didn’t descend into the cage fight limbic fight or flight that accompanied my decision-making over getting Lipton’d (yay, growth!) the absolute certainty that God was pressing on me was just as astounding. Help!

I quickly sent the smart-alec pastor (SAP) the job description, accompanied by the sentence, “Please read this. Freakin’ out. Don’t ask me what I prayed over yesterday.”

The reply: “Looks like someone wrote a job description for you, Phil. Of course I have to ask, what was it you prayed for?!”

Remember I also asked God to be really clear. The ‘up in lights’ neon joke I regularly request? As the SAP’s line about it being a job description written for me appeared in the instant messaging window….every light bulb in my office flashed, popped and flared. I kid you not. It was like something out of Poltergeist. I had to step outside and check the electrical safety board. Nothing had tripped.

Seriously, my imagination is not that good. God was more than at work. He was inviting me on a new journey. To trust the air between trapezes. To live on a prayer.

What would you do if you were truly fearless?

imagesI’ve never been much of a goal setter. I am incredibly thankful for the personal or business achievements in my life to date, but it kind of all happened ‘by accident.’ I was too young to know better (hello, 25 years old, and my first client was a multinational offering a monthly budget that I had earnt as a journalist in six). I somehow then accrued the business skills to sail through the subsequent years, build up a good sized PR agency, generate profits and employ people.

Then, after my spiritual Christian explosion last year (the whole hound of heaven, G,J and the Holy Ghostwriter, getting dunked experience), everything came into sharp focus.

This is not about me. Yet I have a part to play. It’s a decidedly liberating feeling to humbly acknowledge God and Jesus have the reigns, while honouring the words: Ask and you shall receive. 

What would you do if you were fearless?

No-one is fearless. Our fears are vines that twist around our legs as we attempt to step forward. They are the whispering voices in our heads that undermine our hopes and dreams. Yet think for a moment. Do you fear the ‘thing’ you are scared over? Or is it actually the feeling of fear that has power? Example: I never set goals in my first business for over a decade because, well, what if I didn’t achieve them? What would that failure say about me? I did OK without them, after all.

Setting goals isn’t scary. It was my fear around having those goals on show for all to see and not reaching them that paralysed me. Cleverly helped by my excuse that I did OK without them anyway (ahem, my dear Psych Nemesis would probably call that denial).

Yet, it is a waste of God-gifted talents not to set big, hairy audacious goals and dare greatly to achieve them. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10.

So I am currently referring to G,J & HS as the divine business management team (DBMT) because without my faith in them I’d not be dreaming so big, and daring as greatly as I am this year and beyond.

I have goals. Big ones. They are daunting and – because God has a sense of humour wiring my brain for warp speed – on a rigorous five-year schedule. I have a business coach to keep me accountable. It is out for all to see. I am the business chick stripped bare.

Yet, stripped down, I feel unencumbered. Able to fly. Paradoxically, given I have more on my ‘to do’ list than ever before in 15+ years of business ownership. I have a lightness that comes from faith that my true CEO has it under control: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us – Ephesians 3:20.

I’m certainly not fearless. Far from it. In fact, before I paid the deposit on my business coaching I was almost paralysed with the uncertainty. So I called a quick board meeting (prayed). “You think you’re in fear,” Jesus said. “Try being me in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.”

Nothing like a dose of perspective. It shoved down the jitters sufficiently for me to step out of my comfort zone and look at the next vista.  Which is the true comfort of faith. With it, I can dare greatly. As the song goesI am brave when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.