From the time I was a small child, I have had a habit of jumping out of bed in the morning, eager to see what the day had in store. Each day was ripe with the possibility of adventure, and I was excited to find out what was going to happen.
When I was a kid something happened that changed my perspective of the outside world. It had been a safe and exciting place but it became an uncertain and scary environment. I continued my habit of meeting each morning with eagerness but with a new wariness and timidity. I did not know then that the event was going to affect my life for decades to come.
Prior to the life-changing event, I lived in faith that I was protected and had been created for adventures only I could imagine. But my faith withered, and I interacted with the world as a wounded spectator. My exciting world shrank. I lived in my head a lot of the time. That was about the time my desire for reading accelerated. Other places and people and times were… safer and more inviting.
As I grew up, I was eager to find my place in the world but I was not what you’d call “comfortable in my own skin”. Russ Taft has a song, “Farther On”, that put words to where I was:
I hear you have a soft spot
For fools and little children
And I’m glad ’cause I’ve been both of those
I shook my fist up toward the sky
And at most of those who love me
A frightened angry boy in grown-up’s clothes
Some time ago I was participating in a ministry scenario for wounded people. The leaders of the ministry sessions asked me to have a private “knee-to-knee” conversation with Jesus about that tumultuous time of my childhood. So like a good little Christian, I agreed to do it. It seemed to be a check-the-box effort since I had already processed through all that stuff.
So there I was sitting in a chair in my living room, picturing Jesus sitting in a chair in front of me. Our knees were touching. Confidant in my spiritual fitness, I asked a profound question:
“So, uh… what’s up with that?”
As usual, Jesus responded in a way I did not anticipate. He gently said,
“You have believed your rebellion began when you were 30 [years old]. Actually you rebelled when you were 9 [years old]. From that place of fear and uncertainty, you chose to run away from Me instead of coming to Me.”
His statement was not condemnation or blame. He was showing me truth about myself. About what I had believed. About my own heart. And how my blame toward another person had blinded me to my own sin: turning away from God out of distrust and fear.
Just as He did for Peter on the beach in John 21, Jesus made it possible for me finally see myself rightly about this situation. He created an opportunity for me to repent, to be healed, to step closer to Him. As Jesus continues to reveal wrong motives in my heart, I always have the same two choices: trust and repent, or… run. I’ve had a long history of running from God. I’ve learned it never works out well.
When God opens up a (possibly scary) opportunity for me, I can choose to exercise faith and say “yes” instead of saying “no”. If I do, I will see amazing things. I will meet interesting people that God brings into my life. I will be closer to my King. I will be at peace, even in the uncertainty of new situations and environments. Over time these opportunities can become more risky. Perhaps even dangerous. But the responses are always the same for me. I’m simple like that.
When I began considering my faith, and what God was asks of me, the picture that came to mind was of me as a very young boy. I was standing on the side of a pool. My dad was in the shallow end of pool with his arms outstretched, saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!”. I was afraid but it was very shallow water, so I jumped. And he caught me. It was so much fun we did it again and again.
Then the picture changed and now my dad was standing in the deep end of the pool, saying “Jump! I’ll catch you!”. I was very afraid because the water was way over my head. It took a lot more coaxing to get me to jump. But once I jumped, it was awesome. Somewhere between the shallow end and the deep end, I became a “big boy”.
And then the picture morphed once more, and I was facing a deep ocean with no land or people in sight. I heard God say “Jump! I’ll catch you!”.
This is how it always goes for me. Each new trial of adventure involves the same coaxing from God, the same fear within me, and a flurry of questions that start with “But what if….”. I am still learning to live by faith but I’ve been practicing by quickly saying “yes” and jumping. When I hesitate, the fear grows too fast and I miss out on the adventure.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
These days the thing I fear most about life is that I might miss out on today’s adventure. I’ve been rescued from a hell-on-earth by the very Jesus that calls for me to jump. I’ve found Him entirely trustworthy and kind.
Maybe the next time He calls for me to jump, I’ll do a cannonball.
I found a great book. The title is “Love Does” by Bob Goff. It is a collection of real-life stories which, in large part, are exercises in faith. It is also funny. I hope Bob will write more books. You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=love+does