Taking That Step

Once upon a time, a little girl went rock climbing. She was all of maybe ten years old and the climbing wall at the museum didn’t look so threatening in the face of the dirt cliff she scaled on a regular basis. In fact, the climbing wasn’t hard in the least, and when she reached the top she could have stayed there looking down at the crowd of people forever… because the only way down was to jump.

I remember that moment clearly—wondering why I couldn’t simply climb back down the wall, retracing my steps and placing my weight where I could trust it, rather than dangling at the end of a rope high above the museum floor. Because I could have done that. I gladly would have done that. But no, they wanted me to step out over that ledge and simply hope for the best, and I’m sure you understand why I wasn’t really comfortable with that.

“Rebekah, I’ve got you,” my dad said, drawing my attention to where he sat at the other end of my rope and causing me to wonder how he could have so much faith in this system. “Just step out. Let go.”

I shook my head and backed away from the ledge. From the fear. From the unknown.

Sometimes I doubt my Father. And I’m not talking about the one who sat at the end of my rope that day (though I surely doubted him in that moment). I’m talking about the One who has been holding my rope since the day He first designed to set me on this planet.

The other day I had one of those moments where I was really questioning the sanity of God’s plan for my life. It was just another one of those days when I was looking at the path before me and thinking that there is surely a better way. So there I was, trying to rearrange the details of my life, when I heard God whisper, “Rebekah, have I not been faithful?”

Ugh.

“Then why are you considering this? Why do you doubt?”

Well, I guess it’s because this past year has been a bit of a rock climbing experience for me. Scaling the wall wasn’t difficult at all, but I’m still standing here trying to muster the courage to jump. I’ve realized how often I’m tempted to reach for those familiar footholds. To navigate life on my own. But all the while, God is asking me to jump. And I’m standing there shaking my head and shouting, “Are you crazy?”

“Rebekah, I’ve got you,” God promises. “Just step out. Let go.”

You know, I don’t really remember what took place that day at the museum. I’m not sure if I finally took that step on my own or if my dad gave a gentle tug on the rope, sweeping my feet out from under me and leaving me with no other choice (he at least threatened to do just that, because that image stands out in my mind like an actual memory would). I do remember not falling to my death. And I even remember thinking that (dare I confess this?) the ride down was actually kind of fun.

I also know that I’m standing here today, faced with the same choice. And, you know, I’m thinking it might be best to simply close my eyes, take a deep breath, and step out into the expanse before me.

Ready. Set. Go.rock climbing collage

A Letter to My Fears

A year ago, I conquered you—held you back for long enough to say to my parents, “So, I’m leaving my job because I just have to write full time. And I know I’ll probably be bussing tables or something just to pay the bills, but what do you think?”

And even as I waited for them to tell me what they thought, I knew what I thought—what you would have me think. This was ridiculous. This was impossible. How could I even think such a thing? And I half-expected my parents to be the rational adults they are and tell me the same thing. But if I conquered you for a moment, my dad wiped you away forever when he said the words, “You have your father’s blessing,” which are words every daughter needs to hear at least once in her lifetime. Because if my father could approve of me just barely getting by, then you had no room to protest.

I chose the words that would propel me onward over the doubts that held me back.

Not that you wouldn’t resurface. Not that you wouldn’t come knocking on my door saying, “About that writing gig… How’s that going for you?” As if you didn’t know I struggle. As if you hadn’t figured out that words are hard to birth some days.

And people might say that your constant presence in my life means that I haven’t conquered you after all. But we both know the truth. We both know there is a difference between the Fear of last year and the Fear of today. While you may still come knocking on my door uninvited, I certainly don’t ask you to come in and stay awhile. Not anymore.

No sir, I’ve wised up to your ways. Now, when I open the door to see your face, I tell you you’ve got the wrong address. The girl you’re looking for has long moved on and, no, I don’t know where to find her.

And I might be the sort of person who would kindly take you in, except my table is already full of new friends. Friends like Hope and Promise and Faith and Trust and Believing, and, well, I’m just not sure there’s room for one more. Besides, you sort of give my friends a bad feeling, and everyone knows that you should never ignore a friend’s warning about a guy. And when you have five friends who are all sharing the same disapproval… Well, call it an intervention if you must, but I’m cutting you out of my life for good.

I used to be in this dead-end relationship with you, but I’ve realized the error of my ways. And don’t think you can come crawling back here and sweet-talk your way back into my heart when I’m feeling a little down.

You see, this world holds something better for me, and you didn’t want me to see it because you knew it meant leaving you. And you knew I had it in me to leave or you wouldn’t have tried to hide the truth for so long.

So this is goodbye—I’m cutting my ties. And don’t you come knocking around here, no sir. Don’t you dare come knocking.

Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat

When I was young, my cousin and I used to sit on a raft in her pool and rock back and forth, back and forth, until we created waves that lapped over the edge of the pool. It terrified me to think that if I were to slip back into the water, I would be in over my head. I hated water. I still do. But something about the waves we created fascinated me enough to make me keep rocking back and forth, back and forth.

You know what else is both terrifying and fascinating at the same time? God’s call on each of our lives.

I think back to a time that Jesus played with water, perhaps similarly  to how my cousin and I did when we were young. Only He was walking in the middle of a storm-tossed sea when He invited Peter out to play with Him. I wonder what was going through Peter’s head when Jesus told Him he really could climb out of the boat. Did he think he would drown? Did he know he would sink?

I wonder if the other disciples thought Peter was crazy for even considering jumping overboard. Didn’t he know it was safer in the boat? Didn’t he know he could drown?

Of course he knew. Of course he was afraid – probably even terrified. But Peter saw what so many of us fail to see through our fears. He saw that there was something better out there. He saw the thrill of walking on water. He saw that the risk was worth it. He saw Jesus beckoning him to play in the waves. And for a few, shaky steps, Peter lived the dream that the rest of the disciples merely dreamed because, unlike the rest of them, he faced his fears and took the risk.

Today I encourage you to rock the boat, make some waves, and take a step of faith, knowing that the One who called you is faithful to fulfill His promises.

Remember, you can live your dream, or die dreaming. As for me, I choose to live.

Touch the World

I watched Nim’s Island the other night. Not my favorite movie, but it happened to spark something in my heart on this particular night. If you haven’t seen the movie, when eleven-year-old Nim’s father gets lost at sea, she sends a distress call to the adventure hero, Alex Rover. Unfortunately, Alex Rover is actually Alexandra Rover – a novelist who happens to be “mildly agoraphobic” and hasn’t left her apartment in six months. But when she gets this email from Nim, she finds herself on a rescue mission.

So in this particular scene, Alexandra stands just inside the door of her apartment, unable to move. Her fictional character Alex Rover (who often makes appearances in the flesh), stands outside the door with his arm extended to her. “Take my hand, Alexandra. Touch the world.”

A rather panicked Alexandra gives the classic response: “I don’t want to touch the world. It’s not sanitary!”

Story of my life. Well, not the unsanitary part. If anything, I probably have an underdeveloped fear of germs. But I can relate to the fear of “touching the world”. I generally shy away from such adventures because it’s not easy, not safe, not practical, not “me”… The list goes on. (I’m pretty much a master at coming up with excuses.)

I feel a lot like Alexandra Rover. I feel like I’m standing at the doorway of an incredible adventure, but I’m too afraid to take the next step because I’m not sure what the next step even is. And there God stands, reaching out to me. “Take my hand, Rebekah. Touch the world.”

I don’t want to touch the world. I do, but I don’t. I do, but I’m scared. I do, but… I do. I do want to touch the world. I do want to leave a mark here. I do want to take God’s hand and step out into the unknown. I do… even when I don’t.

The same arm He extends to me is extended to you. So come along with me. Forget your fears, take His hand, and touch the world.

Waiting…

The three children bounced on the trampoline, shouting at the ground beneath them. “You can’t hurt us, Satan! God is going to beat you up!”

The youngest of them chimed in. “He would right now, but He’s busy.”

“No, He’s not busy,” her older counterpart corrected. “He’s just waiting.”

Waiting. God is waiting. I wonder what it is He’s waiting for. Why doesn’t He intervene when evil triumphs in our world? Why doesn’t He put an end to the suffering in our midst? Why doesn’t He hurry to vanquish Satan forever? Why does He wait? And why does He insist on making me wait with Him?

I think that’s our biggest problem with God’s periods of waiting. We’re so anxious to rush into things that it bothers us to wait with God. We start to think that if God called us to something, things should start happening now. But still, God waits.

Do you ever think that perhaps God is waiting for you? Do you ever wonder if the reason nothing is happening might be because you haven’t taken the steps to make it happen? I could say that whatever God waits for is really none of my concern… unless He is waiting for me.

Nothing happens on its own. God usually doesn’t drop things into our laps unless we are actively pursuing His will. Once you start moving in the right direction, God no longer has to wait. But if He waits for you and you wait for Him, your dreams will wait along with you.

For this reason, I choose to move Beyond Waiting. I choose to step out into the unknown, believing that God will clear a path before me.

He’s just waiting… But not for long.

Reluctantly Called

For the longest time, I simply didn’t understand people who said they were afraid to give God control of their lives because they were afraid He would call them to some remote village in Africa. Maybe that’s because I gladly would have gone to Africa as I delighted in my call to world missions. Many missionaries tell stories of their hesitation to follow God into the mission field, but not me. I fell in love with the dreams God was stirring in my heart and I couldn’t fathom how anyone would fear God would call them to something they didn’t want to do… Until He called me to something I had no desire to dream. For the first time in my life, I truly related to Thomas Carlisle’s “The Great Intruder.”

“It is exasperating to be called so persistently when the last thing we want to do is get up and go but God elects to keep on haunting like some holy ghost.”

So there I was with this “holy ghost haunting,” and sweet, obedient, willing-hearted, little me said, “There is no way I’m pursuing that one. If You want this to happen, You’re going to have to make it happen Yourself.” (FYI – that is a really, really dumb thing to say to God because it just might be possible that He’s truly serious about that thing to which He called you.) Last night, He answered my foolish statement. Last night, He stripped away all my excuses. Last night, He provided such a clear starting point that I can’t turn away this time.

While I should listen when God calls me, sometimes I’m stubborn and insist that I need more than His call if I’m actually going to move. So last night, God sent me a person to ask me to follow that calling, and I felt Him whisper in my heart, “You denied Me, but can you deny her?” I couldn’t. And He knew it; that’s why He sent her to ask for Him.  

So I’m taking this moment to say that I’m stepping out into the calling I never dreamed of, and I’m willing to bet it will soon become my greatest dream. Because I still believe God doesn’t call us to things we don’t want to do; there are simply a few things we don’t yet realize we want to do.

So if God has been stirring something in your heart and you’ve been afraid to answer, this is your call from a human, beseeching you to step out. Someone in this world needs you to take that place God has opened up for you. If you’ve somehow managed to deny God, please don’t deny that person who really needs you to embrace your calling. I can guarantee you won’t regret it, but you will regret not trying.