Who are you in a boat with?

Everyone is on a mission.  In that sense, we are all like the Blues Brothers.  There are a lot of different missions out there; missions for money, for sex, for glory, for peace of mind, for philanthropy (which sadly, is often also related to glory or money via tax protection), for world peace, for fitness, for God, and the list goes on and on and on.

If you are like me, you are on multiple missions.  I would like my primary mission to be becoming more and more of a man of God, but I’m not always awesome at that.  I try to tailor my other missions to point in this direction.  I have a mission to be better with my money, so that I can leverage it to serve.  I have a mission to be a better father and husband because life and faith are not about me but about being a conduit for love and grace.  I have a mission for peace because I believe war is awful in all guises.  I have a mission for fitness because discipline in one area for me increases discipline in others, and also I believe being fit is a way to honor God for the unique creation that is your body.  I’m on a mission for glory, but not my own glory but His.  This part get’s backwards sometimes, but I’m also on a mission to be better about that.

The most difficult part of almost any mission is fear.  Fear cripples.  In the words of Dune’s Bene Gesserit, “Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration…”  When we dwell on fear, we cannot act.  If we cannot act, we cannot accomplish, and if we cannot accomplish, our mission results in failure.  So we have to face fear…“I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me…”

Easy enough to say, but how?  I think the first, most difficult, but possibly the most rewarding way is to simply choose to face it and will yourself into it and through it.  There is nothing wrong with experiencing fear.  Everyone gets afraid.  We fear failure, we fear aloneness, we fear the dark, we fear spiders, heights, clowns and so on.  That’s normal.  That’s human.  The question is how we react to it.  I elect to face it.  I hate heights, am terrified of failure and am surprisingly uncomfortable outdoors in the dark in rural areas.  My list of fears and insecurities is longer than we have time for, but you get the point.  The most difficult thing I do is choose to face those fears, have faith that no matter what happens, things will be okay…

Sometimes I simply can’t bring myself to do it, and that is when I trust the other people on missions with me to push me forward or at the very least, not to feed my fears.  And this is the challenge for this blog entry…Who are you in a boat with?  A couple thousand years ago, Jesus’ disciples were in a boat far from land, and amidst the wind and waves, they saw Jesus walking across the water toward them.  Peter, having faith, got out of the boat and began walking toward Him.  He walked upon the water until the wind frightened him and he let his faith and resolve falter, and he began to sink.

If you’ve spent time in church, you’ve heard this story and probably have heard a multitude of sermons on the story focused on Peter and how sometimes we have to have the radical faith to get out of the boat even when the world says that what we are about to do is impossible.  That is a totally worthy message, and possibly the most important message from this story.  But what about the other guys in the boat?  As I read this today, it struck me that they did not hold Peter back.  They did not say, “Dude, you’re gonna drown.”  They watched in silence, admiring Peter’s faith and possibly even silently encouraging him with their looks.  Rational thought would mean fear, doubt, death, but when Peter had the faith and resolve, he got out of the boat, and his friends stood behind him and made no move to stop him.  At least, that is what I believe.

So, who are you in the boat with?  Are the people alongside you in your mission pulling you back?  When you try to step forward in faith and resolve, do they grab your robe and pull you back, or even pull you down?  Do they cause you to doubt before you even step over the gunwale?  ARE YOU THE PERSON IN THE BOAT PULLING PEOPLE DOWN?

Find people who will encourage you in those missions which are worthy and redirect you from those pursuits which are harmful.  Get in the boat with other people and encourage them.

Where you have the strength, face your fear and turn your thoughts to where the fear has been and you will find you remain, stripped of pretense and cleansed from the crippling of fear.

…”And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.”

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