“He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” Matt. 14:29
By: Dana Baran
I come from a family of adventurers. When I was ten, we sold our house in Southern California and moved to the mountains of Colorado, where we lived on thirty-five acres off a mile long dirt road. Winters were long (did I mention our only heat source was a wood stove?) and summers were beautiful. A few years later we leased out our house, bought a motor-home, and spent the next year touring the U.S. and Canada. We made it to forty-seven of the lower forty-eight States (somehow we missed Michigan, chased away by the man-sized mosquitoes no doubt). When I was seventeen I decided to raise money for a mission trip that would take me to France, England, and Northern Ireland (this was in 1998, just months after the last cease-fire agreement was signed). My parents gave me their full blessing and support, though Mom shakes her head now wondering how she ever let me go. At twenty-four I gave up a great job teaching fourth grade in order to spend a year teaching kindergarten at a Christian school in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I did not speak Spanish. I did not know how to teach kindergarten (my certification was 4-8 grade). After marrying my husband, we had more adventures together…swimming with stingrays, racing around on a speedboat, floating down an underground river, climbing up the side of a waterfall.Then came the ultimate adventure, becoming a mom. Talk about a game-changer! Suddenly I’m responsible for a tiny, helpless being that I love more than anything in the world, who makes being spontaneous impossible and who zaps my energy quicker than it takes to heat a cold cup of coffee in the microwave. As I’ve adjusted to nap schedules and diaper bags I’ve found that my sense of adventure has waned. It happened so gradually I didn’t even notice it until God brought it to my attention on this past Memorial Day.
We’d been invited to spend the holiday on the lake with a group of singles from our church. After making my packing list (which included over twenty-five items, most for Baby Girl), sending my sweet hubby to three different stores in search of an infant life jacket, pulling on a swimsuit that didn’t fit quite the same way as it did pre-pregnancy, and driving forty-five minutes to the lake house party location, I was more than content to simply sit in the boat with Charlotte on my lap as we motored out onto the water. It was a perfect day…warm and bright but slightly overcast to keep the sun from broiling us. I happily fed Baby Girl her lunch, ignoring the tow ropes that were creaking overhead and the tube that was strapped to the back of the boat. There were eight other people on the speedboat, so I was certain that there would be plenty of takers willing to jump on the tube and get towed around the lake. No need for me to volunteer. After all, I had Baby Girl to watch and hold and protect. Well, it turned out that although they didn’t have as good as an excuse as I did, most of the other boaters seemed as reluctant as I was to brave the cold water.
Then my husband offered to take a turn. I was shocked. What was he thinking? Was he really willing to risk his life getting pulled around the water at break-neck speed, with me and his 13 month old daughter looking on? Of course I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to ruin his fun. But as I watched him being bounced, jostled, and thrown from the tube as we raced around the lake I felt a stirring in my soul. It wasn’t very long ago that I would have been the first to grab the chance for a ride. What had happened? I looked down at my sweet daughter. Of course I couldn’t leave my baby in the care of virtual strangers while I went gallivanting about on an inner-tube, risking life and limb for an adrenaline rush. Or could I? Suddenly, right there on the lake in the middle of an idyllic afternoon, I had an identity crisis. What kind of mother do I want to be? What kind of wife? What kind of role model for my daughter? Do I want to spend the rest of my life playing it safe? Do I want my daughter to grow up with a mom who won’t ride roller coasters with her? Do I trust God enough to show my child it’s ok to take risks? These are the questions that flew through my head as we coasted to a stop, and I found myself speaking up. “I’ll take a turn.” My hubby grinned at me as I donned a life-jacket and climbed out of the boat, onto the two-person tube that he was already on. I glanced back at Charlotte, sitting in the lap of another mom, watching with interest to see what Mama and Daddy were up to.As the boat took off I found myself clutching the handles for dear life. It was every bit as bouncy, fast, soaking, and terrifying as I’d imagined. I loved it. I looked over at the love of my life, clinging to the tube right next to me. Our eyes locked, and we grinned. This was it. This was the adrenaline pumping, death-defying stunt that memories are made of and stories are told about.
When the boat finally stopped and I climbed, trembling with adrenaline and exhaustion, back onto the seat next to my daughter, I couldn’t contain the huge grin that felt perma-fastened to my face. Charlotte held out her arms and I took her back onto my lap, glad to have her back in my arms but also glad I had let her go long enough to have this little adventure. Looking back I felt God’s hand nudging me, reminding me that having faith means getting out of the boat, trusting Him to lead me, holding on and enjoying the ride. I don’t want to live my life inside the boat, safe and comfortable as that may be. That is not what God is calling me to, and that is not the life I want for my daughter (tempting as it may be to keep her cocooned in a plastic bubble). I don’t want to just encourage her to take risks, I want her to come along on adventures with her dad and me. It is excellent practice at letting go of our illusion of control and trusting in God’s faithfulness. I don’t know what my next adventure will look like, (possibly a whitewater rafting trip with my sweetheart in Colorado), but I hope that I will recognize it, willingly hold out my hand to God and trust him to bring me through it. I hope Charlotte will be watching. I want to give her not just a strong moral compass, knowledge of the Bible, and a heart for others, but also a sense of adventure. Isn’t that what living the Christian life should be? To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, our God is not safe, but He is good. He wants to take us on the adventure of a lifetime, but first we have to volunteer to step out of the boat. This summer is ripe for adventure. Don’t miss the chance to experience one for yourself!
Francis Chan is a talented speaker and author. In this short and hilarious clip, he explains beautifully what I was trying to say. Enjoy!