Stepping out of the boat… To walk or sink!
Being in ministry is interesting… to say the least. You never know where you are going to end up on any given day. Sometimes that unknown place is a quick stop somewhere. Other times it is a much bigger endeavor. Some may think it is scary to give the direction of your life over to someone else. And in many ways it is scary. However, there is also a freedom in knowing the One who knows a lot more than you do is in control. By giving our lives over to the all-knowing God, it frees us up to just learn, live, and teach His word.
This year has been just as interesting if not more so. I have heard of others who had radical changes in their lives because God called them somewhere new or back to somewhere old. I have almost envied those that “heard from the Lord” to go here or do this in a big move. I often forget the subtle shifts He has made in my life from time to time. I know that I have in the past defaulted to being the one deciding things without looking to God and this has been the cause of many struggles. But God knew I would choose what I did and what the consequences would be and He wasn’t surprised or mystified by my choices.
One example of God’s timing is my knee surgery. What should have taken 4 appointments and a surgery over however short that could have taken place took at least 8 appointments (some postponed, rescheduled or missed) over a time of 14 months. If it would have taken the couple of months that it should have (in my time), I would have had my surgery almost a year ahead of when I did. So I would have been going through rehab last year which, looking back, wouldn’t have been too bad but it would have changed quite a few things through the year. One of which was working part-time for a carpet cleaning friend of mine which was something that helped us financially get through the year. But also, I would not have been prepared to hear from the Lord. Besides, it wasn’t His timing either with everything else that had to happen in other people’s lives as well. (Something that if you take the time to think about how God works in and knows everyone’s lives and how they all work together here and there, your brain would implode. Mine does!)
Looking at things now, I see a different picture. I see God’s hand in it so much more because of what He has been showing us this year alone. It is weird to me because I have never heard of God working in “themes,” especially monthly ones. That is exactly how He has been talking to us this year though. Here is what He has told us each month:
- Jan – God said rest. Be still. Wait… It helped that I was laid up after knee surgery.
- Feb. – God said get going… so we got going. Posting more, reaching out more meeting more etc…
- March – God said, there is a mountain in front of you but I will show you the path. Your foot will not stumble and I will give you strength each step.
- April – God is saying… now, it’s time to get out of the boat. Wait! What?
What do you mean, “Get out of the boat”? We were just on a mountain on terra FIRMa. SOLID ground. SURE footing. When did we end up in the boat? Climbing a mountain is big enough, isn’t it?
But that is what He is telling us to do. Get out of the boat. Get up out of that comfortable seat, even though you have been experiencing the storms, you have been doing so from the safety of the boat. Now, go over to the edge and climb out. I showed you the path last month and you were walking on solid ground that your brain understood would hold you up. Now, I want you to get out of the boat, get out of your brain and walk on… liquid. A substance that we dive into. I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t go diving into dirt or rocks.
So we are getting out of the boat. We are stepping out on the water. And one of two things will happen. One option is our foot will stop at the surface (or maybe just below it) and support our weight. We only know this is possible literally because Jesus showed it can be done and He had Peter come to him on the water as well. So, we too must keep our eyes on Jesus as we step out in faith and walk where He is leading us.
The second option is we get out, put our feet in the water, let go of the boat and sink. This doesn’t mean that we were wrong or that Jesus failed us, it just means He is using another option for us as well. Remember Jonah who was trying to run away from what God had asked him to do? He didn’t hit the surface of the water, get up and wipe himself off and start walking to Nineveh. No, he sunk like a rock. But God (I love that phrase) had other means to get Jonah where He wanted him to go. We just want to be obedient so we aren’t thrown from the boat. Or worse, left in the boat.
So, either we will get out and follow Jesus or God will make sure we get to where He wants us to go and we just have to enjoy the ride. It doesn’t matter which way it will be because we will be doing the will of God, living purely for Him. After all is said and done, God desires obedience and that is all we have to make sure we do. Both Peter and Jonah got out of the boat in a stormy sea and God protected them. God is calling us out of the boat in a stormy sea saying don’t be worried or fear but come to me. Trust me.
What does this look like in our life? Well, I had a meeting with my pastor where I submitted my letter of resignation as youth and associate pastor. We are getting out of the boat and focusing solely on our ministry. (It just so happens that our church on the inside looks like an upside down boat.) My pastor confirmed this call as God had been preparing his heart for this exact thing. This is a very exciting time for us. We appreciate your prayers as we keep our focus on Jesus and His direction for us.
Another area that this means for us is getting out of not only the Conejo Valley, or even Ventura County but out of California and into other states. The goals and vision God is giving us is big. And only ministering to our local area isn’t going to meet those goals or vision. We are reaching out to other areas, starting with friends and places where we are planning on being anyway. This, I am sure, will quickly open up to reaching out to unknown (for us) areas. Or in other words, walking where we aren’t sure of our footing, but trusting that God will show us the path.
Our hope is that by being obedient to God, first, His glory will be shown and second, others will be motivated to live purely for Him. We aren’t doing this for ourselves by any means. This is purely trusting in God to guide, provide and equip. I hope to share our journey so others can learn to follow God in His calling for their lives.