“It’s great to feel comfortable,” she said to me. “But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable.”
My sister’s words brought to light everything I had been struggling with over the past few weeks. In the time since the Christmas holiday, I had found a place of quiet rest; I was content and comfortable, and for the first time in a long time, I was at peace. But then the Spring came, and with the season’s arrival, I was thrown into a tizzy.
The tizzy is better known as YLF. For the first time, I will be directing the program by myself without the usual guidance and support. True, I will have a well-trained staff and a good support system throughout the week, but even so, I will be responsible for 30 people for seven days. This comes with a great sense of responsibility— one that I do not take lightly.
As I have processed this reality of heightened responsibility, I have often let fear take hold. I am insecure, uncertain, and intimidated. Thirteen years ago when I applied to be a delegate camper at YLF, I never thought I would be in this position. I couldn’t see myself being a leader as a sixteen-year-old student, yet, here I am today, directing a leadership program. What? How did that happen?
Let me take you back to the words of wisdom that my sister spoke just a few days ago. I was telling her about my responsibilities at YLF, but of even greater concern was an opportunity on the horizon for later this summer. I had just filled out the paperwork to be an STM, a short-term missionary for Joni and Friends Family Retreat. I had never been a part of the family retreats before, but I was intrigued by the concept and immediately followed up to obtain more information. I have always loved ministering to fellow individuals with disabilities; that is why I continue to dedicate my time to YLF. But here with Joni and Friends was an opportunity to serve amongst people with disabilities in a Christ-centered environment. Finally, I thought to myself, I would be able to serve in this capacity to my full ability.
But yet, not having served at Family Retreat before made me a bit nervous. I had no idea what to expect, and the thought of raising funds and gathering support was far too overwhelming. Even though I was excited about serving families affected by the presence of disability, I was afraid too. What had I just agreed to? Was I too impulsive in my decision?
My sister had talked about not feeling too comfortable and how God often calls us out of the ordinary to better serve Him. In reading through the Scriptures recently, I found a fellow servant of Christ who faced His own fears when called out, and it brought me a great deal of comfort. In Matthew 14, beginning at verse 25, Peter sees Jesus walking on the lake and calls out to him: “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus tells him to come, so Peter steps out on the water. But when he sees the wind and the waves, Peter becomes fearful and begins to sink. He cries out to Jesus in fear: “Lord, save me!”
What was Jesus’ response to Peter? Well, it couldn’t be more applicable to my own life right now. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I had to ask myself in that moment upon reading the text— was I doubting Him? Had I neglected my faith in Him to wallow in fear? Perhaps I needed to be more like Peter in being willing to risk it all to walk on the waves. True, Peter experienced fear when he saw the wind and waves, but his fear only rose to the surface when his eyes were no longer fixed on Jesus.
It was then that I realized I had done the same thing. In my fear and doubt, I had succumbed to my plans for how to make everything come together. I figured if I planned and organized enough I would be certain that nothing unexpected would happen. If I could keep away the uncomfortable and unwanted circumstances, I would be in a much better frame of mind.
In my planning and preparation fed by my increasing fear I had taken my eyes off Jesus. I had forgotten to come to Him with everything that was at stake. He knew that I was struggling, and at every moment, I’m sure He was saying, “Oh, you of little faith! Why do you doubt that I am with you? I am right here! Come to me! I will never let you fall.”
So even though I am trembling with the responsibility on my shoulders and the fear that I will never measure up, I know that He holds everything in His hands and I need only to lean on Him. The coming summer will be challenging and will no doubt call me out of my comfort zone. But that’s okay; like my sister said, He doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us out into the wind and waves so that we might cling more fiercely to Him. As the waves threaten to crash over me, I will get down on my knees in prayer and allow Him to carry me through these uncharted waters.
“Sometimes people are reluctant to do more for God. They feel stretched beyond their limits as it is. But anyone willing to break through their fears will discover that life is best and most satisfying when we’re living God’s adventure” (Bruce Wilkinson).