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Michelle DeRusha: Stepping out in faith

Michelle DeRusha: Stepping out in faith

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Michelle DeRusha

Six weeks ago, I resigned. After nearly 10 years, May 3 will be my last day at NET. And May 4 will be my first official day as a freelance writer.

"It's like you're at the end of a long, dark hallway," my officemate Pam said to me one morning. We sat at our desks as I hemmed and hawed aloud about the pros and cons of a career change. "You just have to take the first step," she said.

"Yeah, but I'd like to see a couple of doors down that hallway first," I replied, laughing. "They don't even have to be wide open; a sliver of light would be fine. I just want to know the doors are there first."

I am not a rebel or a risk-taker. I avoid change and am comfortable with the status quo, thank you very much. That's why this leap into the foreign world of self-employment is a big one for me, fraught with all sorts of insecurities and fears.

I'm afraid I'll fail to earn a decent living.

I'm afraid I'll lose contact with the real world.

I'm afraid I'll morph into a weirdo with chronic coffee breath, unkempt hair and monkey slippers on my feet when I pick up my kids from school.

As I labored over the decision of whether to quit my job, I thought a lot about Pam's remark. Her comment about taking the first step reminded me of the Old Testament story about the Israelites crossing the Jordan River:

"As soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord -- the Lord of all the earth -- set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap," Joshua told the Israelites as they stood on the riverbank.

Notice the specifics: The water would stop flowing only after the priests stepped into it. God would provide, Joshua assured them, but they needed to take the first step.

The Bible doesn't tell us if these priests were apprehensive or hesitant. It doesn't tell us if the priests weighed the pros and cons of crossing or whether they wondered if Joshua was a hair crazy. What the Bible does say is that the Jordan River was at flood stage, so we can imagine the roiling, muddy water as it swept past the Israelites. And we can imagine, too, that they were more than a little anxious about being swept away with it.

Nonetheless, the Israelite priests stepped into swollen, raging river, and as promised, God parted the turbulent waters. The Israelites crossed safely, reaching the opposite bank to begin the next chapter of their lives in the Promised Land.

Sometimes I think God simply wants me to trust him enough to take that first, tentative step, without the signed-on-the-dotted-line guarantee that everything will work out. Sometimes I think God wants me to step out in faith, trusting that he will brighten the dark hallway and open doors along the way.

And so, on May 4, I will do exactly that. The hallway still looks long and dark; the roiling waters have not yet parted. But I will step out in faith.

Do me a favor though. If I hand you a latte out a coffee house drive-thru window a year from now, please don't ask me how the freelance writing career is going.

Michelle DeRusha's religion and spirituality column runs in The (402) 411 on the last Saturday of the month. She is a member of Southwood Lutheran Church, a mother and wife, and writes a blog, "Graceful," about finding faith in the everyday.


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