Are you a “can do” person with a “will do” follow through plan? In other words, are you a positive person that walks their talk and finishes a task until it’s complete? The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13 said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He understood the need for us to not allow “I can’t” to become an excuse for “I won’t.” Of course, all of us have limits to what we’re capable of achieving, but all of us have a capacity to do and be more. John Maxwell’s latest book, No Limits: Blow the CAP Off Your Capacity, has been a good reminder of this. I’m being challenged to look honestly at myself and not allow my age, educational history, talents, or lack thereof, to determine my present or my future.
By nature, I tend to not be a risk taker. Jesus said, “Lo I am with you,” not “High I am with you,” so hang gliding in outer space is not my idea of a fun day. Jumping off cliffs is insane but don’t tell that to my son Greg because he has done it and loved it. Since I would rather be a live coward than a dead hero I’ve chosen to avoid setting myself up for an accident by saying no to cliffs. However, my fear of water and heights has not kept me from climbing a ladder or going for a swim on occasion. So I take calculated risks with the knowledge that whatever I’m about to do could either lead to an accident or perhaps a thrill of a lifetime.
Webster defines an accident as an unforeseen, unfortunate and unplanned event or circumstance. I believe in accidents, and I’ve experienced my share of those unforeseen, unfortunate, and unplanned situations. One of those occurred in 1970 while driving to a church where I had been invited to speak. I was attempting to slow down to navigate a curve when the truck I was driving “fishtailed” and went out of control. I was involved in a two-car pileup and escaped what could have been a disaster. However, I didn’t allow that accident to define my life, and I made a decision to give driving another try.
In the world of theology, another word for risk is faith. Faith is placing your trust in the ONE who created you, having confidence that God never brings you to something without giving you the power to go through it. The only way to build faith muscles is to “walk by faith and not by sight.” Recently I heard a minister preach from Psalm 23. He stated that David did not say, “Yea though I run through the valley of the shadow of death,” rather he said we are to walk. Walking takes a little longer, but it permits us time to see things and to listen for messages God is seeking to convey to us. He slows down our pace so our spirit can catch up.
Matthew 14:21-33 tells the story of Peter’s attempt to get out of the boat to walk on water at Christ’s invitation. It’s an example of taking a step into faith’s waters. Janna and I have faced some challenges that required us to “walk by faith.” Recently God has asked us to do just that, to take a big step of faith. We are like many who find the comfort zone warm and cozy. However, experience has taught us as we took those leaps of faith, we can testify that God was there all the time. I may be afraid to bail out of airplanes, and I may not be as young as I once was, but like Caleb of old, my mantra is “give me this mountain” that requires faith to move.
I have experienced God’s faithfulness in my professional life as well. I have served five churches, one college, and helped found The Love Akron Network. All of these places of ministry presented me with opportunities to swim in faith’s waters. Yes, there have been a few sleepless nights, forcing me to pray lest I give in to fear. I must be honest and say while I love to see and hear the ocean waves, I’m not a water bug, and faith’s waters aren’t particularly inviting for me at times. I’d rather stay safely on shore rather than risk failure in faith’s waters. But, you can’t walk on water if you don’t get out of the boat.
The mission of this blog is to speak to those who are facing challenging times that require you to take a step or perhaps a leap of faith. I want to encourage you to take that first step and watch God work. Don’t allow the fear of people or failure to keep you imprisoned on shore or in the boat. The waves may be churning, and the wind may be blowing, but go ahead. Take a step into faith’s waters and watch God hold you up just like Jesus did when Peter dared to follow Christ’s call to come. If you hear God’s voice say, come…go for it!