Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,”Jesus said (Matthew 14:27-29).
I love how Jesus always warns us “not to be afraid” before he asks us to do the incredulous, like walking on water. It’s as if he knows we will first respond with: “But wait, I can’t do that!” And it’s true. We usually can’t, not without him anyway.
I take great comfort in knowing this, because it means that my doubts and faulty starts are understood by him. God knows my heart and understands why I’m afraid, which is why he tells me (and you): “Take courage. I am here.”
So then, the question really is: When he calls us, will we go despite our doubts and fears?
I attended my first Sisterhood Leadership Retreat back in 2016 when I was the most unlikely candidate to do so. I wasn’t serving in a ministry (or leading in any way, actually), but I still felt that God was prompting me to lead through speaking and writing.
His call wasn’t out of left field, mind you. I’m a college grammar and writing teacher by trade, but I still felt paralyzed…UNTIL I heard about the Sisterhood Leadership Retreat.
I signed up for it immediately. I can only explain this as a “Holy Spirit moment.” As I didn’t consider myself to be a leader at the time, I felt like an imposter for going, but I figured I had nothing to lose.
And oh how faithful God is when we are obedient to him, right?!
He showed up that weekend in the hundreds of different faces I saw—the grandmas, the church leaders, and the mamas holding babies. He showed up in the conversations I had with strangers and friends. He showed up in every session I attended, especially during the keynote about Peter getting out of the boat.
The speaker asked us all a very simple question: “What is God asking you to do today? Is he asking you to stay in the boat, or is he asking you to get out?”
And friends, my answer was so salient, it hit me like a heat wave to the chest:
Jonna, God said, Get out of the boat and start writing.
But I can’t do that, I clamored. I’m nobody! Who’s going to even listen to me?
Jonna, he said again, Get out of the boat and start writing.
But I don’t even have a blog, I whined. No twitter account, no Instagram following…..I don’t even know how those platforms work! And really…what I would even say?
Tears dripped slowly onto my journal page.
Oh sweet daughter, I have SO many things for you to share! But first, you HAVE to get out of the boat and start writing.
Have you ever felt this way? Like God was so clearly calling you to something but the fear of failure consumed you instead?
This is why we have to CHOOSE him over our insecurities or feelings, right? And by the grace of God, that’s what I did in that moment.
I walked straight up to the emcee after the keynote had ended and asked her how I could start writing for the BTG blog. She told me to submit an article and that they would take it from there.
I left feeling inspired, energized, and eager to answer God’s calling (because he had so clearly called me out of the boat, right?) and I wrote my first article in two hours flat.
Only after I submitted it, I never heard anything back.
I could’ve felt sad about this (and eaten a massive bowl of popcorn in my closet) but I didn’t. I chose to fix my eyes on God. This choice then gave me the inspiration I needed to start my own blog (which at the time, felt SO much scarier than writing for BTG!).
Then, about a year later—after I had about 20 of my own articles posted and was leading AND speaking in a ministry at my church—I got an email from a BTG blog editor apologizing for not responding to me earlier.
She said that my article had gotten lost in the shuffle, but could they still use it? And…“Would you want to write for us regularly too?”
You guys, the victory dance I did in my living room was nothing short of football glory. YES!!!! I exclaimed back.
And the rest has been history.
You see, when God calls us to something, he is ALWAYS there with us—even when things take longer than we want them to and even when we start sinking beneath the weight of our own fear, like Peter did. God is there. We just have to keep walking anyway.
So I pray you take that first step today. Maybe that means reaching out to a friend who has hurt you, or maybe it means finally starting that ministry you’ve been dreaming about. Maybe it means signing up for this year’s Sisterhood Leadership Retreat.
Whatever the case, I pray you choose strength and courage over fear (read James 1:9), knowing that God WILL meet you out there in the deep.
You just have to get out of the boat first.