A Little Detour

Don't forget you can win a copy of Lisa Wingate's Never Say Never this week just by telling me a fun blog to visit. You can see the contest instructions on Monday's blog.  AND you definitely want to hop on over to SheReads where we're giving away copies of Just Between  You and Me AND a huge basket of calorie-ridden goodies that I am dying to steal myself. You can find those contest details HERE.

I wrote a little devotional on fear for Proverbs 31 Ministries/She Reads that ran last week. It got cut down quite a bit because 1. It needed to fit the space.  2. Sometimes I can ramble. 3. Everyone needs to be edited. (In fact, I wish I had an editor with me at all times who would filter everything I ever wrote or said. Or wore. Or bought. Or ate. Or painted on my kitchen walls. Five times.)

I thought I would share the devotion in its entirety here.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.” “Lord, if it's you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14: 27-31

Do you strive for safety and security? Don’t we all. But God never commanded us to be safe.

While writing Just Between You and Me, I immersed myself in my Bible, studying the topic of fear, the central theme of my novel.  It was ironic and laughable to me, because I was and am the poster child for fears. I fear rejection, success, heights, strangers, choking while alone, being asked about the conflict in the Middle East, skinny jeans, and green peas. So much of my life has been dedicated to playing it safe.

While studying for this book, I kept going back to the Bible where Jesus would find his disciples in a state of fear. In Matthew 14, the disciples are in the boat, the winds are going crazy, and walking across the water is this dark figure in the night. Peter takes the lead and tells the figure if He is Jesus, then call him out with him on the water. Did Peter even know what he was asking for? You want to walk on water? In a storm?

Jesus does indeed call out to his friend, and things are going well. Until. . .Peter takes his eyes off his Savior and focuses on the wind. The wind that’s tossed the boat, made the night scary, and no doubt whipping through his hair and clothes. How could you not notice the wind?

The second Peter takes his focus off Jesus, down he goes.

I’m so thankful for the rest of that verse that tells me that Peter didn’t plunge straight down and become fish food. He didn’t even have to dog paddle against the waves and struggle his way back up. Jesus reaches out his hand, asks, “Why did you even doubt me?” and lifts him to safety. They get out of the boat, and the winds don’t just simmer down. They stop completely. Isn’t that like our God?

So many focus on Peter’s lack of faith when discussing this chapter. I always notice how cool the guy is just for getting out of the boat. Let’s be honest. I wouldn’t. Would you? I like safety. I like security. I’m the girl who double checks her locks before going to bed. I’m the neurotic who has a routine of eyeballing my stove and iron as I head out for work—whether I used them or not. Safety is comfort. Security is what lulls me to sleep at night. But. . .what am I missing by playing it safe? What are you missing by not climbing out of the boat onto the waves?

God has gigantic plans for us. In Jeremiah he tells us that he has plans to prosper us, not to hurt us. Yet, how often do my rules and sense of control get in the way? What about you? Would you have taken on the giant if you had been a young David? Would you have climbed into the fiery furnace with faith if you had been Shadrach? (Me? I would’ve been snot-crying in a squealing heap on the floor.)  And I have a feeling if we had been Peter on the water that night, many of us not only would have sunk as well, but we wouldn’t have gotten out of the boat in the first place.

The Bible is full of these amazing moments that required blind faith—faith in something unseen that simply defied logic and did not make sense. Yet moments where if that challenged child of God had let his or her fears rule, would’ve turned out so much differently. So much. . .less.

In 2005, I had my David and Goliath moment. I went out to meet my giant, and with gigantic faith—probably for the first time in my life—God rewarded me with a victory.

After reading the book Beyond Jabez, my idea of bold faith was radically shaken. Changed. I decided God didn’t want me playing it safe anymore. I had long held onto a dream of being a writer. But really hadn’t done anything about it beyond wishing. Wishing is safe. And tidy. So tidy, almost no one on the planet even knew I wanted to be a writer—that in fact, I had dreamed of it my whole life. I had prayed a lot about it—but hadn’t given my desire feet. Hadn’t made it a verb. Had barely even written.

After reading Bruce Wilkinson’s book, God really spoke to me. I was so burdened with the idea that living small, denying my big dreams was like saying to God, “I don’t believe you’re going to take care of me. I don’t believe you can whip up anything big for my life.” I wasn’t trusting God with all my life. I was the one in control. And frankly, it was boring me. So I gave the writing idea a shot.

Months after reading the book, I traveled to my first writer’s conference. My family was shocked. Surprised. A little worried. What kind of ridiculous dream was I chasing? I went armed with nothing more than 20 pages of a book (and that’s all there was to it) and this supernatural faith built on months of prayer, claiming my dream, and relying on nothing but God. I knew, I just knew God was going to do what I began to call “the amazing.” I went to this conference expecting great things. And I think that is what made all the difference. Much like David and his Goliath. He went in knowing the battle was his. Knowing all he needed was God. He put his fears aside, and picked up one perfect stone.

It’s a long God-story, but that conference changed my life. I don’t know if I have ever been more prayed up and faith-filled in my life. And six months later I had my first book deal. The statistical chances of that happening given my lack of experience and writing? Zero. My chances of success in God’s economy? One hundred percent. But I had to meet the giant on the battlefield for that to ever happen. Had I continued to just sit and wish, I’d still be hoping today. And book-less.

What are you dreaming of today? Or maybe the last decade? Perhaps all your life? Like me, are you hiding behind safety? Are you living in your comfort zone? Don’t you want to be thriving?  What is God asking you to do today? What dreams have lingered with you that won’t leave you alone? Take your eyes off the raging waters, off all the logical reasons why not, and reach out your hand and slip it into God’s. He’s been waiting for you. He says, “Have courage. It’s me. Don’t be afraid. I’ve got you, kid. I’ve got you.”

Now you just have to meet him there.

Father, you have not called us to live a safe life, but a giant, faith-filled life where we face our fears to achieve the amazing things you have planned for us. Help us to reach out to you, even when we’re afraid, and keep our focus on you. Bind up any fear, any excuses, any obstacles in our way, and show us your will, your clear path. In the power and name of Jesus, Amen.

*****

So hop on over to SheReads and enter in the drawing for the calorific loot. And if you think about, I'd love for you to read some of the many comments left and say a prayer for a few of these ladies ready to step out in faith and leave some fear behind.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
Ruth - February 10, 2010

Wow, Jenny – thank you SO MUCH for sharing this.

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Tammy - February 10, 2010

Thank you so much Jenny!
That was beautifully written, and just what I needed to hear!

xoxo
Tammy

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Erin McFarland - February 10, 2010

Thanks for sharing this! It was so encouraging… i love when others share the journey to doing what they love… and how God is the master orchestrator! Can I ask which writer’s conference you attended?? Happy Wednesday! 😉

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Jenny B Jones - February 10, 2010

Thanks for the encouragement, ladies.
And Erin, American Christian Fiction Writers. ACFW. Email me if you need info. It’s THE BEST fiction conference.

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Debra Weiss - February 11, 2010

Wow, I didn’t know that. I assumed you’d always been a writer. I’m going to remember your story next time I have doubts and fears. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

Deb

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Becky M. - February 12, 2010

I love this, Jenny! Thank you for sharing that so eloquently. I so easily forget to keep my eyes on Jesus through the storms (and the sunny days, too). Thank you for the reminder!

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Hannah Y. - February 12, 2010

Wow, rockin’ message! You expressed that so perfectly, that fear that holds so many of us Christians back. And we’re the children of God! You’d think we’d be better about faith. But thanks for the reminder that we serve a big God Who specializes in doing big things.

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Stephanie - February 12, 2010

I really enjoyed reading this. It reminds me that if I want to go for my goals I have to face the fears.

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Tori - February 13, 2010

I have just watched the most empowering video ever. You should put the Youtube Video “We Are The World 25 for Haiti” on your blog. 🙂

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lynn - February 18, 2010

Lovely, lovely post. My first time visiting here, by the way. I am a fan 🙂

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