Out on a limb

Do you ever feel out on a limb with God?


Scripture is packed with stories of men and women out on limbs and they sure sound great in the telling, several thousand years later, though you can’t help wondering

how Abraham felt, exactly, packing up that mountain with his son and a butcher knife

how Gideon felt sneaking up on the bad guys with a pitcher and a trumpet

how Elijah felt in the moment of dumping the twelfth barrel of water over a soggy fire pit with four hundred people watching

how Jochebed felt when she put her boychild into the Nile river in a homemade raft sort of thing and hoped it wouldn’t leak

how Ruth felt slipping into the tent of a man and adjusting his bedclothes.

Faith, says the Hebrews man, is the substance of things hoped for. Substance. Substance means stuff, not ideas. Faith is the butcher knife and the pitcher, the firewood and the cheap reed basket, the trumpet and the blanket of a man. Faith is assembling supplies: lining up a physical and utterly ridiculous substance that gives silent testimony to things not seen. That substance is a bet, if you will, on a God who has promised to come through.

Our job, as far I can see it, is to assemble the pieces.

Which gives a whole other level of meaning to that verse in Psalms.

The most uncomfortable part is not the gathering of supplies. It’s the moment immediately afterward, when all has been collected and we find there is nothing more to be done. The wood is arranged. The bad guys are sleeping. The baby is afloat.

And then we are poised.


Poised feels to the principal players almost exactly like hung out to dry. Here in this position we have Naaman coming up from his sixth dip still leprous, Elijah praying for rain, Jesus suffocating on the cross. The stage is set. The sun is going down. The world is watching (and laughing in its sleeve).

Out on a limb. Do you still doubt He will come through for you?

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9 years ago

To keep trusting while muscles ache and scream for relief out on that limb…thank you, Shari, for this powerful reminder.

9 years ago

No, I don’t!

The hard part for me, is not being “out on a limb”, it is the reality that God might not “deliver” in a way that I would not like.

The surrender, for me, is not in being “out on a limb”, but in grappling with the reality that “I’m-out-on-this-limb-with-no-guarantees-that-this-thing-will-go-in-the-direction-I-favor.”


Michele Walsh
9 years ago
Reply to  Renee Shafer

I agree Renee — Abraham knew God would provide, but Hebrews says he already believed his son to be dead. He didn’t know if it was through resurrecting Isaac, through providing another heir, etc. Seems maybe the way it happened with the provision of the ram was farthest from his mind. It is hard for me to get to this place — to trust even when I don’t know HOW the provision will take place. I think partly because I’m worried of what it might look like…. “what if it all falls apart?” Not that I don’t think He still has it… but what if it is allllll that pain… Just my thoughts for the evening.

9 years ago

The really amazing thing about all the stories of these crazy ppl who did “out on a limb kinds of things” is that the God they trusted in had already made provision. The ram caught in the bush, the princess who had a soft heart for crying babies, the man whose heart was turning already in the womans direction. I have been living in this place of how do I do the hard, crazy things, while learning to trust that God has predetermined the outcome and provision of what He calls me to. The story of Abraham offering his son has been my theme story. He did as God asked and moved forward. Even when he got to the mountain, at the point he still had not seen the provision, yet it says he walked forward and worshiped and returned to offer his son. I want to be able to reach that point in my heart, that when I cant even yet see the provision, I can still worship in trust that He has got this! I am realizing I much more like the Isrealites..I cant just gather one basket of manna, I want to run out take things in my own hands and store it up “just in case” God doesn’t come thru. And crazy thing is my “own supply” rots, and his doesn’t. Blessings in your waiting and trusting. There really truly is a guarantee that He will provide.

9 years ago

….”we find there is nothing more to be done”. Wow! It’s a hard place to be, but thanks for the reminder!

9 years ago

Thanks. Just what I needed to read this morning. When I read the stories of God winning for his people in battle I’m cheering them on, “Go for it! It looks impossible but you will win because God is on your side!” It’s easy to do when I read a story, not so easy in real life. God is for me! Oh that I could live in confidence because of this.

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