Excerpt from “Lessons in Walking On Water”

Captain’s Log

Today is Monday, September 21st 2009. Last Friday, I was sitting at my desk praying about my job when I was hit by this notion to turn in my resignation. Since I had been plagued with thoughts like this for quite some time, I once again excused the idea and went about my day. After all, I had grown accustomed to being a miserable receptionist with nothing more to look forward to than phone blitzes of angry clients and a constant barrage of demands from fifty gazillion coworkers who can’t see past their judgments to see the real me. Obviously, I had some beef with the everydayness of my life. First of all, because God created something in me that isn’t satisfied with the sedentary life. Sitting at a desk all day is sucking the life out of me. It is paying my bills, but slowing sucking the life out of me. I am unable to use my talents, my creativity, my personality, for God’s purposes. Try as I might, there is little room for the real me. She is shriveling up inside of me and I am desperate to set her free! The idea of quitting didn’t sound bad, there was only one problem: I still have bills to pay! So I sat there and excused the thought … again.

Come Sunday, though, God really started a work. First, one of the men in my church, caught me on the stairs and even though I’m not sure what started the conversation, he got off on a mini-sermon about how Peter had a hard time stepping out of the boat. Dun-dun-dun! The resignation immediately fell back into my mind and though I smiled on the outside, a war had begun on the inside. I was determined that this conversation and my half-baked idea to quit were completely unrelated. I grew uncomfortable, though, when my pastor began preaching because his sermon focused on trusting God and allowing him to lead us into our destiny. First step? Getting out of the boat. Now things were serious! The last thing I wanted to do was quit my job with no other alternative way of making money. I am a single mom of two growing children. I have health insurance and I just bought a house. This job is my life-line. Pastor continued to preach, and a lump formed in my throat: “When God asks you to do things, it won’t make sense to the world.” (gulp!) “Your friends and family will think you’ve lost it.” (Yes, I’m sure they will ….) He just went on and on, and the lump in my throat became so big, I could hardly stand to breath. I was sobbing at this point because I really didn’t want to believe God was talking to me like this in front of all these people. Of course, no one else was any the wiser of what was going on, but I knew all too well that God was dealing. I managed to make it through the service and escape out the door without really talking to anyone. That evening I had planned a movie night for the teens at my church, and Joyce Meyer was our guest speaker. I popped her DVD called “Battlefield of the Mind” and skipped to the last section. The title of the sermon was “Think About What You Think About” and I am still not sure how God managed to bring it all together, but Joyce looked right at me while I was watching the movie and said something to the effect of “God could be telling you to leave your job because he’s got something better for  you, and all you need to do is STEP OUT OF THE BOAT.” My chin hit the floor. So he got Joyce Meyer in on this too! It’s a conspiracy!

Needless to say, I woke up this morning determined to step out of the boat. I had a peace about resigning my job, which didn’t really even make sense to me. I don’t have a plan B. I’m not leaving this job because of a good interview somewhere else. I haven’t sent in any applications or resumes elsewhere. I have no plan whatsoever, and yet I woke up this morning aware of the fact that I would be sealing a chapter of my life before I rested my head tonight.

All the way to work, I sang, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all these things will be added unto you. Hallelu-hallelujah!” I rolled into the parking lot early and some time to quiet my heart before I went in. It was perfect.

The day started off great. Every time the devil tried to slip a concern in my mind, I rebuked it. I was not about to start looking at the waves before I even stepped out of the boat. With the peace of God on me, they really weren’t that menacing. All was well for the most part. I had a slight anxiety attack on my lunch break anticipating that the end of the day was fast approaching and I still had not done anything, but I had promised myself that I was going to give my letter of resignation before I left work. I picked out a date three weeks into the future, October 9, and began typing it. All of the sudden, one of my co-workers yelled “What are you doing? What are you doing???” She slid her chair over behind mine and began reading over my shoulder. Mass mayhem ensued and I had to explain it all to her. The waves got a little bigger as she tried to persuade me that I was messing up big. “What about your house and kids? No job security in this economy? Why would a person do such a thing? It’s suicide … and  you’re dragging your kids into it!” Did I mention that I really hadn’t gotten a sufficient reason for all this hammered out yet? Nothing made sense, and she had a pretty convincing argument that I was making a huge mistake. I took my letter back to my boss’s assistant and she asked me the same questions. I just looked her in the eye and said, “You know, Peter didn’t have a life jacket when he stepped out of the boat.” She didn’t get it.

After I left work, I called my pastor’s wife for some prayer and spiritual encouragement. She never fails me. She told me that God would honor my faithfulness and my obedience, and quoted a scripture. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Hallelujah! I was encouraged once again. Fast forward a few hours and I was facing my mom and stepdad. I had to tell her. It didn’t seem right that coworkers knew before my mom. She’s like my best friend. She was less than thrilled. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I shouldn’t have expected much more than what I got. She actually drummed her fingers on the counter at me! “What are you going to do? What about money? I wouldn’t have done anything without having another job lined up, or you could have waited until you filed your taxes so you would have some money put back.” I know this mother! That’s not what God told me to do. How do you explain these things to other people? So I tried my line again, “Peter didn’t have a life jacket when he stepped out of the boat.” My stepdad piped up, “Peter didn’t have a house payment either!” My throat started constricting again. The waves had become gargantuan! Each one was menacing, threatening. Mouths to feed, house to keep, babies to take care of. How am I going to pull this off? All the sudden it became, “How can I?” when just this morning I was saying, “Not by my might, or my power.” Even as I lay here reflecting on the day, I’m still pretty terrified of the waves.  I have three weeks to learn how to let go and let God. Three weeks. I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but is it possible that it could have been done in three weeks, because that is all I have?

Today, September 21, 2009, I prepared to step out of the boat. I’m going without a life jacket and I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus. God help me!

Captain’s Log

Day 2

It’s 4:30 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep. It was hard getting to sleep last night and now I’m up this early. It stinks.

The first mate and the skipper are up too. They couldn’t wait to get out of bed either. Too bad they don’t have this kind of enthusiasm at 6:00 when I try to wake them up!

You know, I got to thinking about something last night. I read through the story of Jesus walking on the water, and how when Peter told him, “Lord, if that’s you, tell me to come to you.” Jesus did, and Peter stepped out of the boat and walked to him. Who knows how far away from the boat Jesus was. Within talking distance I’m thinking. Anyway, then the bible says that Peter got to looking at the waves around him and began to sink. “Lord, save me!” he cried. Jesus lifted him back up and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Another story I read last night was that of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. King Nebekenezar had an enormous idol made and commanded his people to bow down and worship it. For fear of death by the fiery furnace, they all obey. All accept for the three standing in the crowd, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. King Nebbie goes to them and, because he likes them, he gives them one more chance. I see myself in him. I do this to the first mate and skipper all the time. In my mercy, I offer them  second and even third chances to reform themselves. It is with great pain that I correct or rebuke them. I imagine it wasn’t easy for the King to throw them in the fire. Or it wouldn’t have been if they hadn’t given him some attitude. Attitude from my crew always motivates me to correct. Shad, Rad and Abe told the King, “We have no reason to fear your threats because our God will deliver us from your hands. Even if he doesn’t, we will not worship your statue because it’s not right for us to do so.” We all know what happened.

Notice the difference in these two stories. Peter was face to face with God-incarnate and he was walking tall on water until he started to doubt his circumstances and his surroundings. Jesus lifted him up and said, “Why did you doubt?” I wonder if he chuckled when he said it … On the other hand, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had only the Book of the Law, an account of the faithfulness of God and they were able to stand steadfast knowing that God would save them because of their obedience. BUT even if he didn’t, they were still going to obey him. Unto death they were going to obey their God. How awesome is that! This tells me something. It tells me that we don’t have the always be a doubting Thomas. Doubt is a human approach and we don’t have to take it. We can choose to stand upon what we know about God and move forward despite the grim observations of friends and family. I felt bad yesterday because I woke up so confident of my actions, and even over the course of the day, doubt wasn’t a huge issue until I told my coworkers and my mom. Then they started throwing circumstances at me that led to uneasiness and fear, and ultimately my looking to myself instead of God. The bible says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Through Christ. It also tells me that “In my weakness, God is made strong.” I just have to know that “If God be for me, who can be against me?” Amen!!!

Captain’s Log

Day 3

I’m just glad today is over. The crew is going nuts around here. I don’t have a whole lot to say. Coworkers couldn’t help but discuss my obvious (in a worldly sense) stupidity at the idea that I can just leave my job and begin a freelance career with absolutely no security or much experience. One actually asked me, “Are you even that good?” I thought, “Wow! I don’t really know.” Now they’ve got me doubting my ability. Well, I’m trying not to doubt. I promised myself I wouldn’t look at the waves. When I finally step out of this boat, I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus and allow him to lead me and sustain me. Anyway, the skipper and first mate are refusing to go to bed. I must attend to them.

Captain’s Log

Day 4

There is a lack of confidence surrounding this decision. Very few people at my work have anything positive to say to me about my resignation. Thus the reason I really didn’t want to tell anyone. But word got out and now I am dealing with it. I know it’s not supposed to be about my ability. The Bible says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I shouldn’t feel incompetent and incapable of succeeding in life. I should feel empowered. Anyway, pretty much everyone that I work with thinks I’ve set myself up to fail. At this point, I just want out of there. I love them all, it’s just that the atmosphere is slowly sucking the life out of me.

I read my Bible on my break today, and found myself at the passage in Matthew about Jesus feeding the five thousands. Jesus apparently took five loaves and two fish and somehow made a meal for 5000 people. This happened right before he walked on water. It’s funny how quickly Peter and the disciples forgot the miracles he had worked among the people. Anyway, my point in speaking about the passage is this: Jesus took a very small amount of food and fed a huge amount of people. It didn’t take long for me to figure out how this scripture passage applied to my current situation. My aunt emailed me the other day and told me that “the market is dry.” Basically, freelancing isn’t looking very good for anyone right now. I just put in my resignation letter so I can freelance full-time and she pretty much told me I shouldn’t have made such a hasty decision. I may not have anything to write once my current job is over. But after I read that story in Matthew, I was encouraged. Jesus was able to feed thousands with just a little bit of food. If he can do that, he can certainly keep my busy with work. The Bible says that his children will never have to beg bread. Why should I worry? Well, I shouldn’t … and I’m trying not too. People around me sure are making it difficult to keep my focus on Jesus and not on the waves. So far, the devil has used my coworkers to make me feel incompetent, unable, stupid and irresponsible.

Day 6

And here I thought I was getting pretty good at this daily journaling thing …. Yesterday was so hectic, I hit the sheets exhausted and forgot to spend time writing. Here’s what happened: More discouragement from coworkers, a ticket and a football game in which I lost total control of the crew.

In the beginning, there was a coworker named __________. She is a case manager who also writes grant proposals when asked. I guess she’s the resident writer. She’s obviously good. She’s secured a few grants for our site, which is impressive because grant writing is hard work and she didn’t exactly go to school to do it. I’m easily intimidated by people when I let myself be, and she was one of those people that just intimidate me. I think it’s because she is a lot like me, only more confident. So, she comes up to the front desk and starts in on me about my resignation. “How are you going to make it? Do you have any work lined up? What about your bills and your kids?” Same questions, different person. Since I’m getting used to the 20-questions about my decision, I was more positive and frank about the fact that I have faith in myself and my God. But then she got persistent … “Yeah, but how?” She didn’t even give me time to form an answer before saying it again, “Yeah, but HOW??” I began to stumble over my words. “I’m going to try to write.” Notice the “try”. Sounds like doubt to me … This went on for several minutes before another co-worker jumped in. “She’s not going to try to write, she’s going to write. Then someone else jumped in and started another conversation that saved me from the arrows flying in my face. THANK GOD!

After I left work, I stopped off to pick up my niece. On our way to meet my mom, I got pulled over and got a ticket. I have a lead foot, and I just wasn’t paying much attention to my speedometer. I also swerved around a turning car that was taking too long, and then hit the shoulder once or twice. The cruiser behind me saw everything. I don’t generally lie to cops, so I confessed my sin and he handed me my ticket and I went on my not-so-merry way. By the time I dropped my neice off with my mom, the devil was whispering things in my ear like, “How are you going to make it? Your shooting yourself in the foot already. You have no money once your last check comes in and now this. Now you have to pay for this ticket. What about your daughter’s b-day? It’s just a few weeks away? Do you really think you can manage to cover the cost of living, much less have money for all these extras?” I was in tears by the time I got home. I went into my room and fell to my knees. “Dear God, I need peace. I need to know that I am doing your will. I need to know that you are going to make a way where the seems to be none. If this is your will, please give me peace and help me to know that you are in control. I don’t want to doubt you or your ability, so I pray for faith in you. I pray for sustaining faith in your almighty power. I know that you are capable of great things, and that you work in the lives of your people. Jeremiah tells me that you have plans for me to prosper me, and not to harm me. I trust you. Help me to continue trusting you. I love you. Thank you for loving me.”

I felt better after praying. I felt a peace again. The peace that assures me that God is going to do something great in my life. I can’t wait!

Captain’s Log

Day 7

On the seventh day God rested. He extended that rest to me today. Pastor’s message today focused on not stopping short of the promised land. Joshua had major faith in God. Moses sent him out as a spy in his younger days to check out the land of Canaan, and he was one of two who came back with a positive report. Ten other scouts came back scared out of their wits, and Joshua and Caleb came back knowing that God had given the land to the Israelites. Forty years later, Joshua was called by God to lead the Israelites across the Jordan and into the promised land because of his faith in God. That’s what God needed was someone to have faith in him. Moses wasn’t allowed to go into the promised land because he allowed the reports of the other ten scouts to cloud his judgment, and he ultimately didn’t listen to God’s promises. Joshua was determined to do what God told him to do, regardless of what the children of Israel were whining about. They were always whining!!! Anyway, the sermon was very uplifting. Even though I’m still not sure what God is moving me into, I have faith that he is doing something and preparing a way even now. It feels weird to not be worried about this situation. It kind of feels irresponsible, but I just have such a peace about it all, I don’t want to worry. God has everything under control. The one thing I do have to worry about is my mouth. The Bible says you speak blessings or you speak curses, and so I must watch my tongue. I don’t want to be shooting myself in the foot with my words. I want to remain positive. So here is my challenge to myself: I will guard my tongue diligently, even if that means I just don’t respond when someone comes at me with their negative comments and questions. I resolve to remain confident in God and in knowing that I heard his voice. This is God’s will, and I know it will work out. Thank you Jesus!

Captain’s Log

Day 8

Today was the first day of week two. The countdown is on… The war is also on. Today, school called me at work because my son lost a tooth by way of his upper lip today, so I spent the rest of the day in the ER and a dental clinic, not to mention the heinous drive between the two. The good news is that his tooth fell out completely so there’s no fragment still in his gums (that we know of), and he didn’t have to get stitched. The bad news, which serves only to stretch my faith, is that my last paycheck will now be short. I’m trusting in God, but I know he noticed the tight swallow as I admitted that. The fact is that I am only human, and no human on earth could do this and not be a little nervous.

I was supposed to lead the bible study at the children’s home today, but with all that happened, I was unable. I feel kind of irresponsible because I didn’t get ahold of anyone to let them know that I wouldn’t be there. I don’t have anyone’s phone number and I couldn’t send an email because I was in a hurry. I will go to work  and send _______ an apology letter. I hope he’ll forgive me.

Anyway, I was unable to read my bible today with all this going on, so I am going to spend some time soaking up the word before I go to bed.

Captain’s Log

Day 10

Okay, the “captain’s log” bit is becoming cheesy and annoying. I don’t really feel like a captain anymore. I feel like a passenger who has no control over what’s happening. I feel like a helpless passenger who is, at this point, just wishing for a life jacket. What sickens me is knowing that the crew is just as helpless as I feel right now. Am I getting ready to make the biggest mistake of my 23-years on earth?

You know the seventh circle of hell? I don’t think I’m there yet, but I am definitely feeling the heat. Yesterday, I found out that the ticket I received for speeding is a whopping $104.50. Yeah, that’s gotta come out of my last paycheck. So does $52.50 for a background check so I can substitute teach, as well as $20 or so for business cards for my writing career. I think I need to clarify some directions with God. I am not comfortable with the idea of all these bills from my last paycheck. What is really necessary here? I don’t want to take any unnecessary steps. I want to know that I know that what I am doing is part of his plan and not my way of saving myself from this creeping feeling that the moment I step out of this boat, I am going to drowned. I really feel that way now. It’s getting harder and harder to breath…

On top of that, I came to the realization … should I say, I came face-to-face with the reality of the scripture that says “God’s timing is not our timing.” I found out today that, had I waited a month I would have received pay for my accumulated ETO that will dump on November 5. That’s seventy hours of ETO. That’s like, almost a whole extra paycheck!!!!! I hope I have enough exclamation points there to adequately express my emotions at this revelation. Instead, I will be receiving seven hours. Seven lousy hours of ETO! I would be kicking myself right now, but I believe I was just following God’s directions. Every time I pray, he gives me a peace about this decision. I hope he continues dishing that out, because I am feeling a pretty major panic attack coming on right now.

The bottom line is, the economy right now is downright terrible. I have no formal writing experience, and obviously, I have been unable to convince people that I am capable of writing good “stuff.” I do not feel cut out for anything, particularly good at anything, qualified to do anything. I do feel irresponsible, but confident that I heard the voice of God. Nothing about this scenario makes sense in the human sense. I think that is the way God likes things. Paul tells us that God uses the foolishness of this world to confound the wise. I really hope this verse was written for me in this situation, because I would like nothing more than to be confounded at the way this all turns out, because right now, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. I am not talking in faith, I am seeing in the natural here. The part of me that has faith in the supernatural awesomeness of God believes that He is going to work all this out and I have nothing to worry about. It’s not that there is a part of me that doesn’t believe in His awesome ability, it’s just that in my humanness, you can see where I am easily freaked out right now. I just want to cry. My mom told me today that she really wishes I hadn’t quit just yet. I don’t think I’ve told you that before this decision, my mom has been the final authority on all my decisions. Basically, making my own decisions was not something I did. I hate making decisions on my own. In this instance, though, I listened to God and went for it, and explained it all to my mom later. Her telling me that I should have waited just tears me in two. Who’s opinion matters most to me? I would like to say God’s. But I can’t do anything to earn God’s approval, whereas, my mom’s approval is a little more conditional. God already approves of me. I’ve been trying to earn back positive ratings from my mom since my first teenage pregnancy. Can God … will God help me on that one, or will my pride become part of the sacrifice? I don’t want to assume I know that answer on that one, but I feel it’s a legitimate question at this point. I need prayer. I really hope that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father right now praying for me. I think I will spend some time in prayer tonight.

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