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I was reading a friend’s blog about fear holding us back yesterday.  It made me think of what John Ortberg writes in, “If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat”.  He points out that the most repeated command in Scripture is regarding fear.  Fear not.  Do not be afraid.  Don’t be afraid, only believe.

Fear holds us back and keeps us from having the full life that God wants us to have.  I think it does more than that, it can cause us to make some poor choices.  I remember a time when I was paralyzed with fear, and I made choices designed to address that fear.  In the process I alienated people because they simply did not understand how I could do what I was doing.  The turning point for me happened when I surrendered that fear to God and asked him to guide me in the way of his will.

Ironically I find myself currently facing some of those same factors that caused such fear years ago, and people are questioning me because I am not showing any fear or anxiety about the pathway that I am facing.  I am facing this path with confidence, knowing that God will care for me, because I have learned to trust him.  I am facing this path with confidence because I am seeking to walk the pathway that God is blessing and not the pathway that I choose and then ask God to bless.  Is this easy?  No.  Is this crucial?  Yes.  Choosing the pathway that God is blessing is a crucial aspect of getting out of the boat and walking on water.

In his book Ortberg writes about being a boat potato:

If I had to name, in a single word, the price you pay for being a boat potato, I think the word written on the price tag would read growth

He continues by saying that staying in the boat

leads to stagnation–unrealized potential, unfilled longings.  It leads to a sense that I’m not living my life; the one that I was supposed to live.

If I believe that God created me to be a unique person who is fulfilled in relationship with him (and I do) then it makes sense that I would be willing to trust him, even as I take the risky pathway of blessing.  That pathway is risky simply because it requires me to step out in faith, to get out of the boat, even if there is a storm raging, even if I can’t swim, and especially if I am afraid.  When we allow fear, or comfort to hold us back from walking with God then we suffer from what Gregg Levoy calls, the common cold of the soul.

The common cold of the soul

To  sinful patterns of behavior that never get confronted and changed.

Abilities and gifts that never get cultivated and deployed–

Until weeks become months

And months turn into years,

And one day you look back on a life of

Deep intimate gut-wrenchingly honest conversations you never had;

Great bold prayers you never prayed.

Exhilarating risks you never took,

Sacrificial gifts you never offered

Lives you never touched,

And you’re sitting in a recliner with a shriveled soul,

And forgotten dreams,

And you realize there was a world of desperate need,

And a great God calling you to be a part of something bigger than yourself–

You see the person you could have become but did not;

You never followed your calling.

You never got out of the boat.

One of the things that I preach about is walking with God and becoming the person you were created to be.  It is what I pray I am faithful in as I walk through this life God has given me.  I hope that when I look back I see the person that I did become because I trusted God and followed my calling.  I hope that I am one of the people that gets out of the boat.