Friday, December 31, 2010

Walking on Water

What do a craft beer brewery in Dallas, Texas and a pioneer church plant in Izmir, Turkey have in common?

They both involve walking on water. Remember the story about Jesus’ disciples on a boat in the middle of a terrifying storm? They see Jesus walking toward them on the lake. Jesus calls out to Peter, so Peter gets out of the boat, and for a few glorious seconds, walks on water. In his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat, John Ortberg defines water walking as taking risks for God and believing He will accomplish through you what you cannot possibly do on your own.

My younger brother Michael is setting aside a successful law practice to get out of the boat and open a craft beer brewery at age 40. After two years of careful planning, he is taking the plunge to pursue his dream: becoming a master beer brewer. It’s a scary, risky business. After all he could go bankrupt, and he has a wife and three children to support. But then again he might succeed! And that would be glorious. I admire him for going after his dream rather than spending a lifetime wishing he had.

My husband and I are also taking our first tiny steps on water to pursue a dream God gave us. Our dream is probably statistically more impossible than opening a beer brewery: we’re starting a new Christian fellowship in a city of 3 million Muslims.

First we had to get out of the boat. That meant leaving a fulfilling but comfortable ministry with people we loved in an established local church. The church was a safe place, but last year while we were home in the United States, God began to call us to get out of our boat and try the impossible: plant a new church from zero. At first I said, “Lord, are you kidding me? Isn’t it enough that we left our home eight years ago to serve you in the Middle East?” But as I prayed, I began to understand that God’s dreams for us were bigger than my own. He was calling us to a higher level of engagement with Him, to believe Him for more.

We decided to go for it.

Some days our dream looks too big. I invite a non-believing friend to our Bible study and she doesn’t come, or I explain the gospel to someone and they say, “Yes, all religions are the same.” I get discouraged, and I ask, “God, are you going to come through for us?”

Other days I’m excited and filled with hope and faith. Water walking is an adventure towards knowing God and experiencing His power. Every day has new possibilities. I pray, “Who can I reach out and show your love to today, Lord?” And I go visit a friend who is sick and take her flowers and a Jesus film. Or I offer to pray for my neighbor.

This dream God gave us is too big to accomplish by ourselves. Without his power, nothing will happen. It’s a dangerous place to be, but I’d rather take risks and believe God for the impossible than play it safe and always wonder what if? He’s calling me to trust Him like never before, and I’m going for it!

What about you? Do you have any dreams? Maybe your aspiration is to add color and fun to your life by taking on a new hobby. Maybe you are considering a risky career change or dreaming of starting a new ministry. What is God calling you to? Are you willing to get out of the boat to try some water walking?

Happy New Year!

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