Ever been paralyzed by fear? I certainly have. The what if's and the obstacles overwhelm me before I even start. Fear of pain, both real and imagined, can become my excuse to stay put and stay stuck, to no longer listen for the gentle whispers of God urging me forward. And even if I do hear that whisper swirling through my soul, fear can keep me from doing.
I know that God is for my good, always. But I need reminders, you know? So, for a full year I had a quote in my car by John Shedd that said, "A ship in harbor is safe--but that is not what ships are built for." I knew God was calling me to leave the harbor toward something more. But the harbor has such a false sense of security to it. I know the harbor; I understand what happens there. I have the illusion of control--illusion because let's face it: a boat can still get destroyed in a harbor. That sense of control is merely the lie that keeps me tethered in place.
Still, the open sea can seem infinitely more scary, full of many more unknowns. There are no illusions of control to cling to out there--I have to fully depend on my Creator to navigate me through. So I debate. I cajole. I try to talk myself out of it, thinking things like, Surely I misunderstood what God was asking of me, or That can't me what I'm meant to do--it just doesn't feel right.
In those moments, I have a choice. I can either believe the lies that fear is whispering in my ear, or I can cling to Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. Sometimes I have to be reminded that I'm not called to live a safe life. I'm called to live a bold, Jesus-driven life full of faith and fresh paths of adventure. So, I held onto that harbor quote as a tangible reminder to move away from what felt safe, and to move toward Jesus' voice calling me elsewhere, to take that leap into the unknown.
When I take a leap of faith with God, whether it's surrendering the outcome of something (so hard sometimes!) or moving in a new direction I feel called to but don't quite understand, I want to feel like this:
And sometimes I do! I am at peace, I've witnessed the ways God has blessed such leaps in the past, and I jump off the cliff with faith and confidence. I feel the wind whipping through my hair; my grin grows wider. I feel incredibly empowered and I soar.
But more often than not, I feel like this:
I have no idea about the final outcome, no clue about where I'm headed, and the fear of dashing myself on the rocks below seems scarily real. I want to know the game plan. I want to know exactly where God is leading me to because in my mind, all I can see ahead of me is fear and doom. These are the moments that keep me awake at night wondering if I've lost my mind, if
this Jesus thing is somehow leading me astray.
What God continues to bring home to me is that it's okay. It's okay that I sometimes flounder and fight, even though God has always been perfectly faithful to me and has never given me a reason to doubt His guidance along my life's path. God is still bigger than the fear that wants to grip a hold of me and keep me from taking that step forward.
It also helps to remember I am not alone! the Bible is full of everyday people like you and me who had to fight past their fears to take a leap of faith. I am reminded of Peter when he chose to step out of a fishing boat and walk on water toward Jesus.
Just picture it. Peter and the other apostles had been sent out to sea into the dead of night because Jesus had asked them to. The wind slowly started picking up, and their tiny boat was being tossed perilously back and forth by the waves. Then, somewhere between 3 and 5 am, Jesus rocks their world:
Deep in the night, when He concluded His prayers, Jesus walked out on the water to His disciples in their boat. The disciples saw a figure moving toward them and were terrified. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid." Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come ahead." Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his fee, his courage caught in his throat, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!" Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you? Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?" (Matthew 14:26-31)
All of the apostles witnessed a miracle that night. They all saw with their own eyes Jesus walking toward them on the water. But only Peter got to experience walking on the water himself. Only he got to experience a deeper taste of the divine.
Sometimes in life, Jesus calls us to step out of the boat. Many fears beckon us not to. What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if I drown? What if I lose my way? Who am I? But when we are willing to take those fledging steps forward, powerful things happen. Through God, we do things we thought were impossible; we experience in a richer way the powerful and diving nature of the God we worship.
You and I will face fear. It's not a matter of if, but when. If Jesus, who was perfect, had to wrestle with fear, who am I to think that I won't? The key to moving through fear is to keep my eyes on Jesus. When the waves and challenges start to grab my focus, when I start to look at myself again, that fear is going to creep back in. But Jesus is right there, reaching down to grab a hold of my hand and pull me back up with truth. He's not mad at me. He's not chastising me. He gets it because he's been there. He understands that I sometimes do that unhappy dance back and forth between following Him and heeding the lies swirling in my head. Still, he doesn't hesitate to help me. Even when I don't sense his hand right away, it doesn't mean he isn't patiently reaching toward me. And he is always there to catch me no matter how awkwardly I leap.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
What are some of the fears you have that keep you from reaching for the goals and dreams God has laid on your heart? What makes up your personal "harbor" that gives you a false sense of control and keeps you from moving? Are you working to make sure your goals and dreams are God's goals and dreams for you, or are you just doing what you think is best?
Remember: stepping out of the boat toward Jesus is always worth it in the end. His hand alone gives you the ability to experience the divine in the midst of the day-to-day. Take some time this week to offer up your fears and dreams to God, to ask him to direct your path and give you the courage to move out of your personal harbor and into the open seas.
Papa, my fears can be so grippingly real sometimes. I know what is right, but I lack the strength and will to push forward. In those moments, help me to remember to drop to my knees and to reach out to you. To trust in you whole heartedly, for you are always faithful to me. Help me to recall the many instances where you have rescued me and set me on firm ground so my faith can be strengthened. And when my journey seems long and the seas seem too rough for me to handle, help me to remember that you are my strength and my portion forever, so you will surely pull me through the storm. Most of all, thank you that you are faithful when I am faithless. I am awed by your love for me. Praise you Lord! Amen.
To learn more about author & motivational speaker Barb Lownsbury, CLICK HERE.
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