I knew it was the right thing to do. I mean it wasn’t like I heard the audible voice of God, but it sure seemed close. It was one of those moments of clarity where God graciously cut through all the clutter in my mind and spoke truth into my heart about a next step I needed to take.
In that moment I felt brave and bold. I could even envision myself taking this next step and I started planning what to do.
But then a day passed. And then a few more. Then all the sudden that brave and bold idea felt a little foolish. I mean who was I to think I should do such a thing?
So, what was that nudge from God? It was going back to school, specifically seminary. I know, that doesn’t seem like such a big deal on the surface. But it was right after 9/11, and my husband had just received a pay cut—as had everyone in his industry. The loss of pay meant we would fall below the line of making ends meet. I had been staying home with our young daughters which meant I needed a job, not go back to school. We had also just paid off our student debt and felt a deep conviction to stay out of more debt.
I started rationalizing. It was impractical. It was costly. It was foolish. Not to mention it would take a really long time. I must have heard God wrong.
But I knew I hadn’t.
I wonder if this is a little of how Esther felt. Esther found herself in the unlikely role as queen of Susa married to the pagan King Xerxes. He was a volatile man who frequently made impulsive decisions. One of these rash decisions resulted in him issuing a decree to kill all the Jews. What he didn’t know was that his wife, Esther, was a Jew.
She knew what she had to do. She was the only one who could ask the king to have her people spared. Seems easy enough, right? Perhaps if you were married to a normal person it would be. But Esther was married to a man who was anything but normal. He hadn’t summoned her to be in his presence for some time—and in that day and age if anyone went to the king without being summoned, they could be immediately executed.
Unlike me, Esther’s next right step could cost her life. My next step would just cost me time and money. And yet, no matter the cost, anytime we know the next right thing God is calling us to do, we tend to question it. It’s just our human nature.
I believe she walked away from that moment of conviction and started to rationalize. I’m guessing she thought things like, “King Xerxes probably won’t listen to me anyway,” or “He could execute me, and then what good can I do?” Or perhaps she just tried to think of an easier and much safer way to accomplish this audacious task.
How did she gather the courage to do what needed to be done? A closer look at her journey reveals three distinct things she did that we can also do. 

1. She invited others to be on the journey with her. Once she knew what needed to be done, she asked that all the Jews be gathered so they could hear about her next steps (Esther 4:16). She was still the only one who could do this hard thing, but she needed to know she wasn’t alone and that she had the support of people around her.  

Bringing people into our decisions is critical. When we share our fragile God-nudges with people who know us, they can speak truth over us, encourage us and even hold us accountable to take the next step. When I felt led to go back to school, I shared the idea with wise Jesus loving people around me. They affirmed me and agreed with God’s calling. This gave me courage to believe that maybe it wasn’t just a crazy idea after all.

2. Esther asked people to fast for her. Not only did Esther need to know the Jewish people were for her, she needed to know they were seeking God with her. Interestingly, the book of Esther doesn’t mention prayer, just fasting (Esther 4:16), but in the Jewish culture fasting and praying always went together. They go together today too. Fasting creates physical longings in our bodies that help us remember to pray and intentionally seek God. We don’t fast to try to sway God’s decisions in our favor, we fast to help us be more intentional in prayer and more attentive in listening to the Spirit’s leading for next steps. This is what Esther was asking the Jewish people to do before she went to the king – seek God in earnest for her next steps.     

God never intends us to fly solo. When you feel led to do something—invite people to pray for you and with you. If you’ve never tried fasting before a big decision, try it. If you can’t fast from food for medical reasons, try fasting from social media or something else you love. Use fasting as a tool to help you intentionally seek God and invite people to join you.

3. Esther went. I know this seems obvious, but I think sometimes we overlook how hard this can actually be. Esther took that next brave, bold and scary step and walked over the threshold into the king’s presence. She survived and the Jews were ultimately spared. But even if the story didn’t end this way, she knew she was doing what she was supposed to do.  

For me, the next step was submitting my application. Then sending my deposit. Then applying for scholarships. Finally, when the first day arrived, I drove myself to school and walked across my own threshold onto campus. I was petrified—but I survived. What surprised me about this journey is that it was only after I stepped out and started making movement forward, and not a moment before, that God provided in a near miraculous way the exact provision we needed to cover our bills and my tuition. But even if he hadn’t done that, I still would have known I was doing the right thing.
Is it time for you to take a next brave step? If you’ve been questioning yourself and rationalizing your way around it, go back and follow Esther’s lead. Invite people to be on the journey with you. Fast and pray – and ask others to join you. Then just do it. Take that first step of obedience and walk across your own brave threshold.
God will be with you each step of the way. He always is. About Jodie Niznik’s Bible study, Crossroads Discover how to live out your unique calling from an unlikely biblical pairing

At first glance, Esther and Jonah don’t have much in common. Esther is an orphan girl, out of place in royal courts, who nonetheless becomes queen and saves her beloved Jewish people. Jonah is a reluctant prophet who ran as hard as he could from God. And when he finally gave in and his efforts eventually saved his enemies, he did nothing but complain.

While Esther and Jonah endured wildly different circumstances and had distinctly singular callings, they were both appointed by God. They were placed in a certain time and space in history. God carried them through unique experiences and gave them specific gifts. Despite their opposite attitudes of willingness, their lives are proof of the great things we can accomplish when we follow God’s call.

In this nine-week inductive Bible study, Jodie Niznik invites you to learn that you too are uniquely equipped and called by God for a particular assignment in a specific time and place. Now you stand at a crossroads, and the choice is yours. Will you choose to boldly respond like Esther or will you fight your calling like Jonah? With thoughtful questions and practical exercises, Niznik will gently help you examine your life through the lens of Scripture and take brave, bold steps forward into the life you long for! Click here to read an excerpt of Crossroads. About the Author Jodie Niznik has served in various roles on the pastoral team at her church over the last twelve years, including pastor to women. Her calling and passion is to equip people to take the next step in their journey with Jesus. She loves to write about and teach scriptural truths in practical and easy-to-understand ways.Niznik has an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in Christian education with an emphasis in women’s ministry from Dallas Theological Seminary. She is the author of Crossroads: A Study of Esther and Jonah for Boldly Responding to Your Call and Choose: A Study of Moses for a Life That Matters, and the coauthor of Galatians: Discovering Freedom in Christ Through Daily Practice with Sue Edwards. She is also the host of the So Much More podcast.Niznik and her husband, Tim, live in the Dallas area and have two young adult daughters, Taylor and Billie. The Nizniks miss their daughters but love their quiet Saturdays. Niznik believes gummy bears and coffee are sweet gifts from the Lord that provide fuel as she writes Bible studies and prepares biblical teachings.To learn more about Jodie Niznik, visit www.jodieniznik.com. She can also be found on Facebook (@JodieGNiznik) and Instagram (@jodieniznik).