Standing in my kitchen, before heading off to begin my Saturday morning routine to finish up some article edits, a friend sent me the Washington Post’s inspiring profile of 92-year-old Dorothy Steel. She is now most noticeable for her role in the recent Black Panther featured film as one of the tribal leaders. Of the many iconic one-liners in the movie, Steel deservedly solidifies her’s as one of the memorable: “We don’t need a warrior. We need a king!”
Steel never intended to become an actor. But at age 88, she starred in multiple Frank Bailey Senior Citizen plays where her talent was discovered, and she began to take acting seriously. She soon began appearing in multiple television shows. Yet even at 91, when asked to audition for a role in the Black Panther, Steel dismissed the film’s potential impact, and disqualified herself from auditioning for a movie.
Fortunately, Dorothy Steel’s grandson, Niles Wardell, called out her unwillingness to audition, challenging her to act on what she believes. “You’re always talking about stepping out on faith. I either want you to man up, or shut up,” he boldly told her. Dorothy knew he was right and she was forced to take the opportunity seriously. It was time, at 91 years old, to “step out on faith” and trust God.
I am similar to Dorothy. I think all of us are. We allow the invisible constraints of our social norms to dictate what we think we’re “allowed to do”, limiting the possibilities of our dreams because of our age, gender, race, or religion. But what if succumbing to such restraints were unrighteous? Could we possibly be communicating something eerily fatalistic to our souls? What if inhibiting the zeal of our passions is to live out a morose and injurious lie that God cannot be trusted?
Walking in unbelief has proven, since the beginning of time, to be the most foreboding consequence of death (Genesis 3:5–7, 22). Yet we continually try obtaining what only God can truly give us—security and freedom—by our own means, which plays out as uncultured exhibitions of distrust in God. Instead of being driven by the security found in Christ, we make “safe” career moves. Contrary to walking in freedom to pursue our aspirations and dreams, we try controlling our perceptions for the acceptance of others. Rather than working to please and enjoy the only one who’s acceptance truly matters, we enslave ourselves to the enigmatic pressures of an always-changing culture.
When I decided to begin taking writing seriously, I was gripped by fear. Nail- biting, procrastination, isolation, self-indulgence, and false humility were a few of my escapes to avoid facing the possibilities of failure. I am still this way sometimes. And when I am, I am not trusting God. Then flood of doubts fill my mind: “Will people take me serious? Will I ever get published? Will people read me? Should I pitch to a publication? Will it be a waste of time? If I decide to make a career change, will I be able to help support my family? Will I lose friends? What will people think of me?” This pool of doubt only rises higher with the tide of unbelief, attempting to drown out the possibilities God has laid before me to trust him.
If you’re anything like me, our fear is steeped in the reality of rejection. Receiving a no, not good enough, not right now, or ‘I don’t want to support you,’ are real possibilities. But repudiations aren’t our most troubling quandaries. On the contrary, allowing those rejective sentiments to inform our identity is always the real crux of our issue.
If we allow our fears to define us, lies will shape how we live. So instead of expounding on the lies, here is the truth: God has already deemed us good enough when he saw fit to have his son executed and sacrificed on our behalf. It is by Christ’s righteousness alone, his subsequent suffering of the cross and man’s rejection, that we are purchased and have an eternal inheritance in the kingdom of God. We are now sons and daughters who are loved and accepted beyond our wildest imaginations.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even failure or rejection (Romans 8: 35–39). For that reason, none of God’s children are ever too old, black, masculine nor feminine, unintelligent, nor flawed to try something new. It is not inherently sinful to take risks if those chances are steeped in trusting God and seeking His wisdom (Proverbs 16:1–3). A dream job or career change is never a too far gone possibility, especially for the saints. We are cradled in the arms of an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-comforting Father who will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:31–34).
Sons and daughters of the kingdom grind hard, working our day jobs with joy, and our side hustles like day jobs, because we can and are penultimately forever secure in Christ. Our worth and acceptance is infinitely invaluable and worth far more than any rejection or failure (1 Peter 1:4–5). And our acceptance by an exceptionally supreme and powerful Father far outshines any success we can attain.
So what do we have to lose? What dreams have you been putting off? What missions have you disqualified yourself from that God hasn’t? Is it time for you to “step out on faith” and commit your way to The Lord?
Musical Reflection: DNOU – KB