He did it again. He got me way outside my comfort zone. “He” is my husband. “He” and Jesus both seem to love to ask me to do things that are scary and uncomfortable at first. Do they enjoy watching me freak out a bit? Probably. But I’m convinced they prod me because they know better than I do what’s best for me.
This past week’s DIScomfort zone for me? Bodyboarding. You know, that sport for thrill seekers who want to be lying down on the ocean waves instead of standing up on them like the surfers do.
As if rock climbing wasn’t enough. (Insert sigh and pitiful grin.)
I invite you to consider my story, along with the apostle Peter’s story found in Luke chapter 5, and to ask Jesus what fears are holding you back from the adventures He has in store for you.
My Wave Story
I’m a midwestern gal who grew up surrounded by corn and beans. Sure, in the summer I spent as much time as possible in my uncle’s 4-foot-deep above-ground pool as a kid, but the biggest waves I ever experienced were the ones created by my dad’s cannonball “dives.”
Now here in Chile, my husband invited me to join him in his childhood ocean fun of bodyboarding. He instructed me how to patiently wait for the perfect wave, and he even gave me a few boosts to help me catch them.
I was having an absolute blast there in the “shallow end” of the Pacific, but then I wanted more. I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to catch bigger and faster waves, but there was a problem. In order to pass the shallow waves and go deeper, I had to dive under them, and let them roll over me.
But I was way too chicken to dive under the waves. (Too bad I wasn’t way too “duck” instead of chicken – then I would’ve been fine.) Doh.
Last week however, I went for it! I said “Adios” to all my fear, and dove under one wave…and then another…and another…and another.
And I loved it!!! I’m hooked!! I can’t wait to do it again!
Okay, so big deal, right? Caryn gets to have fun in the water. Whoop dee do!
The purpose for every blog post I write is to cheer all of us on to love and live for Jesus. My hope is to inspire us all to move from the “shallow end” of Christianity, to a deeper, more abundant walk (or ride) with Jesus.
Even if you have zero desire to ride an ocean wave, I know we all have fears that hold us back from experiencing a greater life story. As Christians, we’ve heard and read 2 Timothy 1:7 a bunch of times. We know in our heads that “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” but we often give in to the fear we feel in our hearts. And then we miss out on the abundant story God wants us to live. We miss out on the thrill of the “bigger waves” found in the deeper end of a walk with Him. We may even start to doubt just how “abundant” is the abundant life Jesus promises to give us.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (ESV)
What keeps us giving in to fear?
Lots of things for sure, but I’d like to look at my wave story and the apostle Peter’s net story to see three common “fearleaders.”
Peter’s Net Story
You remember the story from Luke chapter 5. Jesus was teaching the people by the Sea of Galilee. He got into Peter’s boat, and asked Peter to put it out a little from the shore so he could teach the crowd. When he was done teaching, he told Peter to row out deeper, and to put down the nets to catch some fish.
Even though Peter hadn’t caught anything all night (when the fish were supposed to be there), he obeyed Jesus, and BOOM! The nets were immediately full and beginning to break. Peter recognized then and there that there was something amazing about Jesus, so he left everything to follow Him.
FEARLEADER #1 = EYES ON THE PAST
My Story – A Scary Past
The first time I ever entered into the Pacific Ocean off the Chilean coast (many years ago), I was clueless, and I turned my back to the waves for a moment, only to be swallowed up by a wave and dragged across the ocean floor for what seemed to be 15 minutes.
Peter’s Story – A Sure Past
Peter was a pro. He had fished for years. He knew better than anyone that if you don’t catch fish all night, you won’t catch fish that day. He had every reason to NOT believe what Jesus the carpenter told him to do would be successful. He had good reason to fear that obeying Jesus would be a big waste of his time.
Whether you’ve had a scary past or a successful past, neither should have more authority in your life than what Jesus is asking you to do today. Don’t let your past keep you in the shallow end.
FEARLEADER #2 = OTHER’S LAUGHS
My Story – The Gringa’s too old!
The beach was packed with Chileans. Even though I dye my hair a nice dark brown, my green eyes and extra 8 inches of height make me stand out a bit. AND, It seems I’m the only middle-aged woman in Chile whacko enough to give bodyboarding a try. My fear had me picturing the lifeguard rescuing me while the whole beach was laughing at me for even trying to dive under big waves “at my age.”
Peter’s Story – The Reputable Pro
Every fisherman on the beach that day knew that casting nets at that hour was a silly idea. Peter was probably picturing his friends sitting around the campfire cracking jokes for the rest of his life about “the day Peter took fishing advice from a carpenter” and finished “finless.”
Surely the Chileans weren’t watching me all that much. People tend not to think of us as much as we think they think of us. And had I failed in my wave-diving attempts, I could have had the privilege of providing the Chileans with some fun entertainment.
Had Jesus not filled Peter’s nets like He did, what’s a few laughs? Peter’s ego probably could’ve used a taste of humble pie anyway. I know my ego could use a steady diet of humble pie.
We tend to magnify the worst-case scenario in our minds, especially if we are trying to please people more than pleasing Jesus.
FEARLEADER #3 = COMFY NAPS
My Story – A Full Tummy
In Chile, you eat a huge lunch, and then the whole family goes to the beach. Curling up in the warm sand and taking a nice long siesta is what your stretched-out tummy is begging you to do. It’s truly what would feel best at the moment.
Peter’s Story – A Full Night
Peter had just put in a full night shift. Then he had just finished cleaning his nets. Obeying Jesus would mean hours of more work with no sure return on his time investment. Going home and relaxing was surely more inviting.
No big horror story scare here. My brain was never stressing out over what bad thing might happen as a result of missing a nice nap in the cozy warm sand. I doubt Peter’s brain was overthinking the physical ramifications of working a little longer that day. But we often put our minds in neutral and coast. We let our bodies decide what to do, and our bodies are dreadfully afraid of missing out on a little comfort.
We don’t get up early to spend time in God’s Word.
We don’t volunteer to help at church.
We don’t miss our favorite TV shows to spend time in prayer.
We don’t limit our Starbucks visits to be able to help more of the poor.
I’ll stop the list, because my intent is not to be a Debbie Downer or Gladys Guilt Trip. Plus, the heart behind the list is asking the question, “What do we fear more? Missing out on loving God and loving people? Or missing out on personal (shallow end) comfort?”
So what can we do to overcome these fearleaders?
I love to ask my soul lots of questions. And, when I dare to be honest with my answers, repentance happens, fear is quieted, and I find myself diving just a bit deeper with Jesus and experiencing the thrill of a walk with Him that is never found in the shallow end.
I encourage you to ask yourself these questions, and ask the Holy Spirit to pry even more if He so desires.
Eyes on the Past
Am I holding on to things in my past that keep me from saying yes to Jesus today?
Are there past hurts, regrets, or successes that keep me from following Jesus today?
Do I tend to worry more about pleasing people than pleasing Jesus?
Do I trust that Jesus knows and wants what’s best for me?
What choices have I made that show my love for comfort?
What if Jesus’ idea of comfort is way more comfortable than mine?
What miracles could I (and those around me) be missing out on because I’ve let my fears keep me in the shallow end?
Peter’s faith grew that day by obeying Jesus in something as simple as throwing his nets into the water. What simple action is Jesus asking me to take that could be like fertilizer on my faith?
Lord Jesus, Help us to say goodbye to our fears, and help us to walk in step with You. Amen.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)