Throughout Scripture, and often before miraculous events, God issued the command: Do not be afraid. Each day, He calls us to live on mission and empowers us to do so, but we tend to be a fearful bunch, and sometimes we can feel as if we’re caught in the middle of a tumultuous river with little more than a canoe and some paddles.
If that’s how you tend to feel, when called to step out in faith, I hope Leeann Betts’s post brings you encouragement today!
Small Boats and Big Waves
By Leeann Betts
Small boats—and the thought of drowning, terrify me. This fear paralyzed me and caused me to miss out on numerous things—until God helped me see the bigger picture.
As a result, I don’t do small boats.
I don’t do small boats.
I won’t enter anything smaller than a cruise ship.
And this from a girl who grew up on an island in the Atlantic.
When I was a kid, my grandfather built a small, flat-bottomed boat. No motors for him—oars only. He’d kit us out in our life vests and fishing poles and take us on a small lake near his summer cottage. I’d sit in the middle seat, and my white knuckles on the edge of the boat could have lighted our way home in the dark.
A couple of times he pried my fingers loose to hand me my fishing pole, but my fear paralyzed me to do anything but hold it. All I could see was the dark water mere inches away. All I could think about was that the water was over my head, that the lilies and weeds would probably entangle me, and who knew what was in the water? All sorts of monsters dwelt there.
Fast forward about fifty years, and I’m heading to Peru on a mission trip with my church. In fact, I’m going to the jungle. I already know I’d have to take a boat from the port to the camp, but that’s okay. I focused on “port” and “camp”, not “boat”.
We arrive at a collection of tiny structures in the middle of nowhere, providing food and supplies for weary travelers. We slip, slide, and scramble down a muddy bank to the water’s edge where our sailing craft awaits. I look upstream. Nothing but a couple of canoes. I look downstream. A metal boat about ten feet long, its canvas covering long rotted—a tiny outboard putt-putting to life under the tentative ministrations of a teenage boy.
My hubby helps me clamber in, and I sit in the middle of the middle seat, clinging to the edges of the warped board. The rest of the team is chatting, laughing, leaning against the side, ignoring me, for which I’m thankful. I think, “Okay, God, I can do this. I just have to do this one more time, on Sunday, when we leave.”
I ask about crocodiles, and they laugh and say there aren’t any. Phew! “But keep your hands out of the water,” somebody says. “There are piranha.”
When we reach the camp, everyone decides to go to the zoo the next day (another round trip in the boat), and to church on Sunday (another round trip) before we leave (the only trip I made a deal with God about).
But the Lord showed me the riverbanks, which in some places looked like sculpted sand. He reminded me that the river didn’t carve these banks, because although we’re at the headwaters of the Amazon, the water is slow-moving.
God pointed out the wake of the boat nudging up against the riverbank, and told me that the hundreds of boats that ply these waters daily made the contours in the riverbank.
“You are like the waves,” He said. “A little touch here. A nudge there. Your presence changes the lives of people, just like the wake changes the shoreline.”
Suddenly, the reason for the trip became clear. It wasn’t about what I did—like painting walls, or teaching English, or cooking—it was about being there. Touching the lives of the children. Of the people who were so appreciative that strangers from the US would come to their country because we love them.
My fear of small boats and deep water didn’t vanish, but at least now I had a reason to tell them to stay quiet. I made those extra trips gladly, knowing that it wasn’t about the trip but about the time I spent with the boys. Nice tie in.
And I discovered in the process that I left my heart in that jungle, at the camp alongside the river, where the only way to get there is in a small boat. I’m looking forward to going back—hopefully soon.
I may sail in a small boat, and there may be big waves, but the good news is I serve a huge God Who can overcome this island girl’s fears and help her see the bigger picture.
Let’s talk about this! How does that imagery Leeann presented–the analogy of our influence being like the waves that gently tug at and transform a seashore? How might viewing our lives that way give us the courage and inspiration to step out and reach out?
It doesn’t take much to make a lasting, life-changing impact. Sometimes the best thing we can do is leave our air conditioned home, cross the street, and engage with a neighbor. Yesterday, an article I wrote for Crosswalk on loneliness went live, and the response blew my mind, telling me this is something many women struggle with. You can read the article HERE.
So many of us are living disconnected, but this is NOT God’s desire for us. He wants us to engage! If you’re one of the many who’ve allowed fear of rejection hold you back and hinder your relationships, I encourage you to come to one of our Bold and Brave conferences–we have one in Lincoln on July 21st, another one in Lincoln on Aug. 25th, and another one in Elkhorne on October 6th. Find out more HERE and connect with us on Facebook HERE.
Want us to come to your next women’s event? Contact me HERE.
And before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.
Get to know Leeann Betts!
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with number 8, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing in June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at AllBettsAreOff. All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.
Visit her website and receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter. Read her writing on her blog, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, and check out her books on Amazon.
Check out her book, A Deadly Dissolution:
The total lunar eclipse of October 2004 leaves more than Bear Cove, Maine, in the dark. The town’s newly-elected mayor, Walter Akerman, hires Carly to audit the town’s books but is then caught in a compromising situation with his secretary Evie Mack. A journalist in town to cover the eclipse turns up dead. Tom and Sarah’s adopted son Bradley comes to stay overnight to see the eclipse, then goes missing on a walk in town. When Mike’s car is in a serious wreck which the police say is an accident, Carly thinks somebody is trying to send her a message to stay away. How can she solve all these mysteries while not completely wearing herself to a frazzle?
Thank you, Jennifer, for having me on your blog today.
Thanks for the great post! It was very inspiring!