How many decisions do we make that are based mostly on fear? This is something I’ve been thinking about lately, because there are some things I really want to see change in my life. And this requires me to evaluate my motivations and be more open and willing to cut things out of my life or to step into new things that may seem daunting or uncertain. To do either requires living beyond my fears and listening to the voice of Jesus above all others. To listen to His voice even above my long-time beliefs about the things that make up my identity and passions.
Jesus reminded me this morning that in walking with Him, there are no safety nets. It’s truly a radical way of thinking because it goes against everything we’ve ever been told about creating security for ourselves and our families. It especially contradicts the whole concept of the American Dream. Jesus’ world has always been upside down, though. We know this. But it’s so easy to forget and take the easy way. But when I’m out on the stormy and unpredictable waters, I don’t want to build boats anymore. My calling is not to build boats. In fact, I’m not even qualified as a boat builder. My striving efforts will only lead to boats that fall apart. They are a false sense of security. My calling is not to spend my life creating a place of safety, a net that I can fall back on if all else fails.
No. My calling is to follow the One who never had safety nets. My calling is to be near Him and get to know His heart more and more every day. And I am now convinced that the only way to do that is to forsake the safety nets.
He must be the only thing I rely on. Because, see, when I am, in a sense, forced to trust Him because I don’t know what’s coming next or if my job will last or if I’ll always have an affordable place to live, I am closer to Him than I could ever be otherwise. We need our eyes opened to see that we need Jesus more than we need anything else in this life. So, count it joy, dear friends, when He strips everything away that has ever made you feel okay or comfortable—because that only means He has something really exciting for you to do! And the key to all this is that you’re doing it with Him.
Sometimes Jesus literally changes everything in our lives just so we’ll remember His love again. He is jealous for us, friends! And He so desperately wants to walk closely with us, He so desperately desires our own freedom that He makes the choice to dare us, to invite us to step out on the waves with Him.
Because He knows. He knows that’s where we’ll find the life we unknowingly hinder with our boat-building endeavors.
We hear all the time people telling us we need to make long-term plans. I’m not saying to throw all that out the window. But the thing we must embrace is that anything, anything, can change in an instant. The unexpected happens. And we need to see this not as a threat but as an adventure. Because the promise remains: He will never leave us. Goodness, as long as our Father is on our side, holding our hands, leading us through the dark, what the heck do we have to fear?
Fear is a controlling, beastly liar, my friends. It will tell you that you are safe when danger in fact lurks around the corner. It will tell you all is well when really you’re in prison. It’s just not worth it to make decisions or live your life based on fear.
You want that abundant life that Jesus promised all of us? Leave the safety nets behind. Take His hand and see what happens. It is scary, yes—but when you defy that fear that so cripples you, you will find a thrill you’ve been seeking your whole life. And you will find that intimacy with your Creator that you were made for.
He won’t leave us. So stop building boats, and cast aside those nets, for they are only traps keeping you from your destiny.
My favorite author, Ted Dekker, likes to employ this analogy of how building sandcastles is what our experience creating and working with our Heavenly Father should be like. The imagery speaks of childlike wonder and playfulness, but most of all, of relationship. The point of building sandcastles with our Father is to enjoy doing something together, to savor the time spent co-creating, and then drawing closer to each other in the process.
The thing about sandcastles is that they don’t always last. The point in making them is not to possess something physical that you can hold onto. The point is the process. Sandcastles can be washed away by the waves, but does that make them unimportant? Does that take away the special memories built and what we learned during the creating process? Does it take our Father away from us? These are rhetorical questions in case you were wondering, with (I hope) an obvious answer. 😉
To use the boat building analogy again—in applying this particular imagery to life, generally building boats is something we do alone. It speaks of a lot of effort. Most of us are not trained in the boat building industry so we’re trying so hard to make this thing that we think will keep us safe from the waves when really, in the end we’ll find it full of flaws and holes anyway. Doesn’t the Scripture say, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it?” Sandcastles are not protected from unexpected waves or storms. Boats make us think they are but are a false refuge.
I would rather build something creative and beautiful like a sandcastle with my Father—enjoying the process instead of striving to do something I was never meant to do—than spend all my energy and time creating an unreliable fortress to keep me from the waves. I mean, what if there is something more beautiful to find in the waves than in my sandcastle anyway? What if the waves actually carry less threat than they seem to?
To me, the risk is worth it.