Out Of The Boat Or In The Boat?

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Hey ya'll. I've just come home from the land down under. No, not Australia you silly. ;) I've just been in the hot, oh so very humid land of Louisiana. My skin loved the humidity but my hair did not (bless my southern sister's). I ate some gumbo (duh!) and made some jelly with my own two hands. I feel accomplished. My kids loved everything about the country. Well, the bugs freaked them out a bit but other than that, they loved it. We saw pretty much every relative on all sides of all our families. It was a bit dizzying, but wonderful too.

I must be honest, though; my heart is here in the desert. I've never felt that way before about anyplace. I'm an army brat and that means no settling down, no roots, really, of any kind. In fact, living here in the desert for almost six years is a record for me. I've never lived in one place that long in all my living. I think it's good, though. Digging in and planting myself here has been part of my process, part of my healing.

I was thinking, as we drove through THE ENTIRE STATE OF TEXAS (ya'll, Texas is forever) about how God does what he does so well. He weaves our stories with such mercy and grace. Mine is no exception and that is just what I was thinking. I was remembering that story where Jesus walks towards the boat, on the water and Peter recognizes him. The storm was raging and well, very scary I would think, but Peter zeroed in on one thing...

Jesus.

Jesus tells him to get out of the boat, and something about that part of the story resonates deep in my soul. So, I ask the question..

"Why would you tell him to step out into the raging storm, Lord?" 

Seems odd, backwards...scary even. To me, it would make more sense for Peter to turn to the other guys in the boat and say, "Guys, we're good. Jesus is on his way so everyone just take cover until he gets to the boat." Instead, Jesus calls Peter out of the boat in the middle of the storm. So, I ask again,

"Why, Lord?"

He answers...

"I'm always in the midst of the storm, never hiding in the boat."

Hiding? Is it hiding when I choose to stay in the boat, where wood and nails and white sails above are my protection? Maybe...maybe it is. When I think back to moments that I know I stepped out of the boat into the storm, I can say with complete conviction that Jesus met me there, as soon as my feet hit those waves. Moving to Arizona was a step out of the boat for me. I had never even given the desert a fleeting thought. I had to go Google Phoenix to see what was here other than cactus! Yes, it was an out of the boat, feet on the waves kind of moment when we loaded that Penske and trekked across the country (well, mostly just Texas.) Then, when I was confronted with my past and told I needed help...it was another out of the boat moment for me. I had to choose; stay in the boat, among the nails and boards constructed with man's hands...my own hands...or step out of it where my ability, my knowledge, my understanding was nothing.

Nothing.

Jesus has met me every single time I've come to him empty handed. Every time. I have had nothing to give when I've stepped out of the boat. I've only ever been weak and incapable...but as long as my eyes are on Jesus...

As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus....

That's why he is always in the midst of the storm, isn't it? It's because only in the middle of a raging sea do we realize just how much we don't have, how weak we really are. As long as I'm in the boat surrounded by my false sense of security, I keep my eyes on the boat. Running to and fro checking for leaks in the wood, nails that have come loose, sails that are torn. As long as I hide away in the boat, Jesus is not my priority, the boat is. I discover grace upon grace when I drop the hammer, let go of the sails and step out onto the water. Jesus is never found hiding among the boards of a boat.

He is always out on the water. 

Driving all the way back to this desert I call home reminded me of all this...of how hard and scary and wonderful and miraculous it is when I just step out of the boat with my eyes on Jesus...and follow. Peter doubted, he began to sink, and I take comfort in that. I take comfort in it because Jesus called Peter out onto that water knowing he would have to reach down into a watery grave and yank him up from it. Peter didn't have it all figured out, in fact, he didn't really have anything figured out. All he knew was that Jesus said come...so he went.

As I traveled back to this place I call home, this desert that became a place of rebirth and new life for me, I remembered that if we had not stepped out of the boat when we really didn't know, didn't have a plan all figured out...well, where would we be? It's a humble whisper of thanks I offer to a God that weaves such majesty into my story...and all because I've been willing to step out of the boat when Jesus called. He is a good God, indeed. It does all beg the question though of when he will call me out of the boat again into uncertain waters, far from the shore. My soul is stirring right now because I do see some "out of the boat or in the boat choices" I need to make, and I know the only way I can go that will open doors and reveal God's glory in my life is out of the boat...

where waters are deep...

where my feet can sink...

where grace is found...

out of the boat and into the storm.

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