Into the Unknown
Guillaume Néry stands on the sandy floor of the Caribbean Sea, just off Long Island, Bahamas, contemplating the dark hole before him. He is somewhat of an amazing man...perhaps he could be called an adrenaline junky. As a French athlete, his endeavors include base jumping as well as achieving championships in free diving. Free diving is a form of underwater diving that relies on holding one's breath rather than the use of scuba gear. While most of us can hold our breath for 45 seconds before we start to become uncomfortable, if we hold on for over a minute, we may feel that we are about to pass out, our lungs starting to struggle to take in air.
As Nery stands there, a few feet below the surface of the water, it isn't just the fact that he is doing so with no apparatus to assist him with breathing, but it is that he is about to free dive into what is known as the deepest sinkhole in the world. It truly appears as though it were a dark abyss with no discernable bottom. If you watch the video of his free dive into this dark hole, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat and perhaps even trying to breath for him. It is as if he steps into an unknown darkness that swallows him up. To say the least, it can be a little scary to watch. Stepping into unknown territory is like that...risky, scary, an adrenaline rush.
In this week's podcast, we hear an interview with Contemporary Christian Music artist, Hannah Schaefer, as she talks about her journey into the unknown and taking the risk that was necessary for her to pursue that purpose for which she was created. If you haven't done so yet, jump over to the podcast and take a listen before continuing with today's blog post...I'll see you back here after the interview.
Until you step into the unknown, you don't know what you're made of.
In the pursuit of our purpose, the journey takes many twists and turns...much of which is the adventure of discovery and fulfilment that is a part of the experience. Sometimes that journey can be exciting, sometimes it is more of the mundane, sometimes it takes us through a season of the unknown...a wilderness of sorts. Now, spiritually speaking, we may often refer to a wilderness as a period of dryness, in which we may not hear or feel the presence of God...a time when we have to rely upon our faith that He is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will. While that may be true, in some ways, about this season of stepping into the unknown, this phase of our journey is also a scary and adrenaline rushing time of abandoning the preconceived expectations of others, or even those we have for ourselves. It is about jumping into that uncertain space, where we find that God is certain and real and present in powerful ways we would have never known, unless we had taken the leap.
Why Step Out of the Boat?
Peter and the other apostles were out on Lake Tiberias late one night, when a storm arose and they were having quite a bout with the wind and the waves. Suddenly, they saw the figure of a person coming toward them, as if walking upon the water itself. They immediately became fearful...the man walking on the water, of course, was Jesus. He called out to them and told them not to fear, that it was he who was coming to them and to have courage. When Peter saw that it was Jesus, in very Peter-like style, he shouted...
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter answered him, “command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.” And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.
Now...I have to say, this is classic Peter, in his boldness and a bit of spontaneous impulse. But you have to give it to him...he was only bold because he was trusting in Jesus to do the miraculous, and to respond to Peter's willingness to step into the unknown.
Had Peter never believed Jesus could make him walk on water...had he never dared to believe that there was something that Jesus had to show him through his faith to step out of the boat...Jesus would not have had the opportunity to display his power in this particular way to Peter and the apostles. Yes, we know what came next...Peter got his eyes off of Jesus and onto the waves. That's when he began to sink. But, even that was a learning experience. Don't give Peter too hard a time over that...Jesus was teaching tremendous lessons about trust, rescue, recovery and sustaining power that would come in handy in the years ahead, as Peter led the first century church.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
God Never Wastes Anything
You'll hear me say that often. I suppose it is because I've seen it over and over in my own life...even when I've messed up royally...when I have made a mess of things...the Father, in His love and grace, uses every bit of it to fashion a masterpiece that is an ongoing work of art. That is why we can trust Him...trust Him when He calls us to step out of the boat. When He says it's time to step into the unknown, that dark hole that is a little scary to consider, only to open up all of the wonderful possibilities and opportunities to experience His purpose for our lives and the glory it will bring to Him. When we do, there are some things that we can count on as a result.
Stepping out into the unknown may mean we make a decision that leaves others scratching their heads. Perhaps it will disappoint those who had their own agendas for our lives. Maybe it will mean giving up a relationship, or an expectation, or a comfortable environment. But there is one thing for sure...It will never mean giving up the peace that only comes from knowing we are following the will of the Father. His peace is beyond all comprehension and will guard our hearts and minds from the attack from within and without.
"In the end, it's between you and God. No one will truly understand your heart the way that God does. In that moment, I knew He had me wrapped up in His arms...I knew that it was going to be okay, and that by jumping into the unknown, I was going to find out my true purpose."
Growth and Fulfillment
When we take that first step off of the ledge, so to speak, there are all kinds of processes that begin to take place in us and around us. God's Spirit is released to do His work in us...to take us to that next level of fulfilling His purpose in and through us.
Because it requires faith to take that step, our trust and reliance upon God grows and matures. We learn what we need and what we can live without. We begin to see the real priorities of life in light of eternity. You can bet that Peter saw this growth in himself over the coming years. Even when he met with Jesus on the seashore for breakfast, after Jesus had arisen, that process was being worked out in him as Jesus told him, "Feed my sheep."
Just as Hannah Schaefer realized that her journey through the unknown meant she would learn new skills and understand new concepts, our step onto the water opens up opportunities for us to learn and develop our gifting and talents to fulfill that to which we are called. Someone has said, "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called."
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
So what will it take to get you to that point of willingness to step out of your comfort zone and into the awesome things God has in store? Discovering, fulfilling, expanding and realizing your purpose often takes you through that season of the unknown. It can be a little scary, but it is a wild adventure that ultimately opens the door for a purposed life.
Check out Hannah Schaefer's music here. Listen to her song, Wild, that is all about answering that call to live our purpose.
What is the dream, purpose or calling that is tugging at your heart? Is God calling you to step into the unknown in some way? Share your thoughts and hopes in the comments and let's get a conversation going.
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With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!