The following is reposted with permission from Ryan Anderson’s blog, Sitting With Ryan. We highly recommend subscribing to his blog to get each new post.
“I’ll just be really disappointed if you don’t do it”, said my good friend Jared as he began to point me up the side of a rock cliff.
We were about 6 and a half miles into our canoe trip, and wow, I’ll tell you what — it was a blazing hot day out on the Delaware River.
At this point, we were pretty well into our 10-mile trek, as we led 17 students through a fun, yet at moments, grueling time out on the water.
Best of all, I forgot to wear my sunhat my wife told me to pack.
Let’s just say, I turned a wonderful shade of UV-toaster red a couple hours into our journey.
But that’s besides the point. I’m already off topic…
Resuming — it was the perfect time to stop paddling, park our water vehicles, and jump off a landmark Jared coined as “small rock”.
Now, contrary to the picture you saw in the beginning of this entry that looks to be a 30-foot jump into gorgeous oceans, “small rock” was no where near that distance.
It was only a 6 foot fall..
And you might be sitting here thinking, “Ryan! You were seriously contemplating a six foot jump?!”
And to that I would say..
“I was! Lay off!”
And it didn’t make anything easier that pretty much all 17 students were now not only jumping in, but landing flips and twists into the 60-degree water.
Jared, who somehow in the blink of an eye turned into an acrobatic professional, even landed an insane gainer into the river!
Here I was, however, on the sidelines. Resting with our canoes and kayaks on the rocky shores of the Delaware deciding…
Do I jump?
I mean, I wasn’t a fool. Right?
My dilemma wasn’t really that I was afraid of heights. I mean, I’m 6-foot 3 for crying out loud. If I’m scared of 6 feet, then I should really be scared of myself.
Looking back in diagnosis, my great hesitation with jumping seems to be more that I didn’t know what lie under the water.
Follow me on this one.
We definitely weren’t in the transparent shores of the Florida Keys, where you can see your toes as the waves hit your hips — this river water was pretty dark and mucky.
This here led to my paranoia:
WHERE ARE THE ROCKS?
And you definitely don’t have to be a rockologist (geologist?) to tell me:
Rocks are hard. Rocks can be sharp. And if you fall on one from a distance of 6 feet…
It will hurt.
I mean, I wasn’t a fool. Right?
I think the same principles apply to our spiritual lives as we walk with Jesus.
If you’re anything like me, it can be nerve-racking just to take steps with God, nonetheless 6-foot leaps into the great unknowns of our lives.
But the reality is that, as we walk through our lives, we will face questions. And these questions may cause us to hesitate.
And I’m not here to say that hesitations are always bad news! In fact, they’re very important and have their place.
But I am here to say that hesitations unchecked can lead us to rely more and more deeply on ourselves rather than on Christ.
For example. Here’s some scenarios based on that last statement:
- If I leave my job I don’t feel called to work in anymore, I won’t have money for my family. So, I’ll remain comfortable even if that means ignoring where I know God’s calling my family and me.
- If I bring up a moment to someone who hurt me with their words/actions/attitude, they won’t like me as much. So I’ll keep the peace by not bringing it up and try to move on as best I can.
- If I really talk about what’s going on in my life, people will perceive me as weak. So I’ll keep everything surface-level, smile through the struggles that only I truly know, and leave things shallow in conversations so that no one can hurt me.
Sound familiar? Other situations coming to mind based off this idea?
Contrary to the protection we think we’re fostering by buying into these hesitations, some of us know the outcome of these scenarios all too well:
The consequences of our inaction (not following where the Spirit is leading us) only leaves us feeling unfulfilled and filled with resent.
So what’s the alternative? How do we get out of this hesitation cycle?
Let’s head back to the Delaware.
Here I am deciding… do I jump?
I hear the shouts that it’s last call for jumping off “small rock”.
Students are literally soaring into the river now, as joy abounds and great memories are shared between them. One by one, river-trekkers begin to hop back into their canoes filled with newfound energy.
Jared swims up to me.
“Dude, you gotta jump.”
“Me? No way man. I just love watching.” (Inwardly thinking, “Yeah, right; like you’re happy with just watching.”)
“I’ll just be really disappointed if you don’t do it”, Jared said.
Realizing he was playing a pretty persistent yet graceful hand, I replied, “Okay. But if I do this, I just need you to show me where to land. I need a marker. I need to know where I’m going.”
“Done”, Jared said. “We’ll go up the rock together. I’ll jump in first, and I’ll show you where to land.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I climbed “small rock”.
I watched Jared fly into the water (no gainer this time).
I jumped towards where he landed…
And I touched down safely with 20 gallons of Delaware River up my nose.
Dare I say: it was AWESOME.
I’m glad I jumped.
So, as we walk with Jesus in our daily lives, how do we break free from hesitations?
Simply — we remember who’s leading, and we know our place.
In Deuteronomy chapter 31, there’s a really important note on this theme we’re sitting here talking about.
Got 3 more minutes?
Perfect. Let’s dive in.
For some brief context, Moses is beginning his transition of calling Joshua to continue in his position by leading the Israelites into the promised land.
Here’s what it says:
“Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it.
Deuteronomy 31:7 (ESV)
That’s a big time mission for Joshua! Right?
But now listen to verse 8.
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you: he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)
Do you see the picture?
Moses doesn’t just call Joshua to lead courageously on his own.
He calls him to remember God and remember his place under Him.
The call of Joshua to lead the Israelites isn’t solely about him stepping into a higher level of leadership. It’s about Joshua stepping into an even greater sense of submission under God’s perfect authority.
Remember verse 8: “It is the LORD that goes before you. He will be with you: he will not leave you or forsake you” (emphasis mine).
Joshua is called to lead, yes. But Joshua is called in an even mightier way to..
- listen for where God is leading,
- follow in His footsteps obediently (even if sometimes the waters are dark and murky),
- and shepherd the Israelites to do the same.
I think that’s why Moses starts in verse 7 by fiercely saying to young Joshua: “Be strong and courageous” — because he truly knows what it takes to trust God firsthand.
Think about it.
To say no to ourselves? That does take strength! In fact, me putting faith in me doesn’t take courage at all. It’s just plain convenient.
But to pass the keys to God? That’s bold. To remember that He’s the one in control? That’s strong and courageous.
So, let’s put shoes to this as we wrap up.
Although this book was written thousands and thousands of years ago, the same truth applies today.
Whatever scenario you’re facing, whatever cliffs you’re looking off of into waters filled with sharp rocks and uncertain depths..
Trust Him. Know who’s leading you. Remember your place under Him.
As we follow Him into the daunting and unknown territories of our lives, know this:
He will not leave you alone.
He’s with us. He’s next to us. His Spirit goes before us.
He guides us up the cliff. He jumps in before us. And He shows us where to land.
So today, don’t let your hesitations stop you from following where the Holy Spirit is leading you.
- If He’s calling you to forgive, forgive wholly.
- If He’s asking you to move, run joyfully to where He’s telling you to go.
- If He’s begging you to rest, fall at His feet.
Whatever He’s leading you to, don’t put it off any longer. Life is better when we submit to Him.
These couple verses in Proverbs say it best:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he’ll make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
This is our God who we can place our wholehearted faith in.
And, if we are His, He will never leave us on our own.
I’m thankful for friends like Jared who remind me of what trust looks like even when things are dark and murky.
I’ll take his phrase as my own: “I would’ve been really disappointed if I didn’t jump.”
I’m glad I did.
And, as I walk with Jesus, I pray I leap each day.
This was taken with permission from Ryan Anderson’s blog, Sitting With Ryan. We highly recommend subscribing to his blog to get each new post.