#3. When Sharks Could be Real
There are moments in my life when I realize that sharks could be real. On the flip side, I’m learning that uncertainty usually leads to some sort of adventure.
I’ve been shunning adventure for years, bottlenecking myself into that certain, cozy zone of security I have always known. I’m starting to realize that shunning uncertainty, shuns all of the excitement out of life: the adventure, the possibilities, the surprises that God might have in store for me. Somehow, I caught myself repeating what I knew in relationships, conversations, and even in work.
Take a little less intense grip, let things transpire on their own. Let’s see where this goes…
We were all made with a desire for adventure and for safety. Therein lies the tension of our lives, and our need for God who supplies both adventure and security in Himself.
God as Adventurous?
I imagine a lot of people could never imagine God as adventurous: a lot of the time, God just equals rules. But if you imagine God as the one who created the earth and all who are in it, out of nothing: animals, flowers, plants, fruits galore…you can see Him as a genius creator, and in the realm of creating there is always adventure. If you think of God as a “good parent” who wants you to have the best life possible (within the realms of His safety), suddenly His “rules” start to make sense and become more acceptable when we realize they are simply handed out in love and not punishment.
Trusting Him can actually bring about adventure, because He usually only presents to you one puzzle piece at a time and leads you down paths you never would have taken without Him. You were too fearful, on your own, to take these paths, yet you were dying inside to do just that.
How Fear Cripples Adventure
When living in California, I tried surfing and was able to learn to ride the little baby waves. It was a great time, and as a mom of 2 at 35: I was pretty impressed with my small successes on the board. However, I can’t help chuckling at myself a little, because about 40% of the time I was petrified of sharks. I would paddle out thinking of sharks. I battled this fear against the tension of simply enjoying what I was doing. If I focused on the fear, I would begin getting all internally-panicky. My eyes would dart around, my heart raced. Sometimes, I even lifted my feet up off the board just in case. (What a puss.)
At this point, I was not surfing and not having any fun. I was immobilized in my mind, no where near enjoying the present (the waves with no sharks). I was feeling that horrible tension right there on the board. Either get out of the water, or put the fear behind you and enjoy the waves. Maybe this was Peter, with one foot on the edge of the boat asking if he could go walk with Jesus on the water: curious but scared-to-death. On the other hand, maybe Peter was the biggest adreneline junkie ever.
Peter: The Adrenaline Junkie or Scared Like Me?
Peter asks to walk on the water, not during a calm clear day, but during a gigantic storm. If Peter were around today, I would imagine him to be a base jumper or one of those crazy surfers who listen for the worst weather conditions that spawn monster waves. With this single request, Peter is basically saying to Jesus:
Let me leave all of my securities I have ever known (the boat), during the biggest trial of my life (the storm), to go and do the impossible with you (walking on water).
Curiously, he doesn’t just go and jump in; Peter actually ASKS first before he jumps. He basically asks something like this:
“Is that you, Jesus? Can I join You, in Your safety, during the greatest adventure of my life? Will you be there with me after I jump?”
Let’s say Peter was mentally in-between these two mindsets: scared-to-death and partly anesthetized to fear like those adreneline junkies. Peter’s real, surrounding circumstances (the storm, waves, and wind) were scary. What was he thinking and why were none of the other disciples motivated to go out and walk with Jesus, too? Perhaps he feared his boat was going to go under, and he felt more safety being with Jesus out in the thick of it than being in that boat without Him.