Where Feet May Fail


“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail”
-Hillsong, Oceans

My family just got back from a vacation to the beach. We spent a wonderful week frolicking in the sun and sand, biking riding, and eating entirely too much ice cream. My husband blessed me with the opportunity to get away almost every morning for a few precious moments alone with God. I headed out in my baseball hat and sunglasses, enjoying the freedom from the confines of makeup and togetherness. I gathered only the essentials: music, reading, journal, beach chair, and coffee (who can go anywhere without coffee?). I breathed deeply and drank in the wild beauty of the ocean. Oswald Chambers said, “The call of God is like the call of the sea. The only one who hears it is the one who has its nature”.  This expression has always been a favorite of mine, albeit a little mysterious. And there is mystery in God’s creation – beautiful and fleeting. I sat long enough to watch it unfold a little more before me. I touched the fringes of its glory and something deep inside me stirred. God spoke to me, deep calling to deep. The words of a song floated to mind, “You call me out upon the waters…the great unknown, where feet may fail”.

Fear of failure, that’s the show stopper. I considered the risk of those unknown waters from the safety of the shore. I saw how my fear of failure has held me back. I prefer measured steps, looking long before I leap. The process of leaving my career was a long one. I joke about it now, telling people I was on the “12 Step Program”. But it was no joke. It was a grueling descent from the dizzying heights of self: the intoxicating power of position, reputation, and identity. I still tremor even now from the aftershocks if I am totally honest. There is a reason mountain climbers have to pace themselves; changes in altitude can be extremely dangerous for the novice.

My ministry is all about the “mountain of self”; letting God mine the depths and heights of you. There is risk inherent in this type of exposure. There are regions of you yet unknown. I see the mountain as a type of roller coaster. We ride from side to side, never truly breaking free from the confines of self to go where God is calling us. We ride the rails, land locked on both sides. The ride has its many thrills and dips, ranging from reasoning psychoanalysis to feelings of crazed insecurity, doubt, and second-guessing. I call this the “pride-fear continuum”. The ride holds us captive, perpetually occupied in its screaming highs and lows, never taking the leap away from self entirely.

For a visual of the mountain, click here: http://www.robynterry.com/the-mountain/ 

I noticed something as I watched the creatures in the early morning ocean scene. The fish were jumping out of the water all around. Splash after splash, I observed them in utter amazement. The seagulls gathered overheard would free fall straight down to make a catch. Straight up, then straight down; over and over, they did this until they caught a fish. The birds showed no reservation; no hint of concern for their own protection or welfare. They were kamikaze deep divers.  And the fish were such an easy catch. They seemed to say, “Oh, Oh pick me! Pick me!”  They were vying to be caught. There was a sacred rhythm to the work of these daring birds and eager fish. God spoke something else to me as I watched them, “Throw your nets into deep waters for a catch” (Luke 5:4).  I thought of this story, when Peter did what Jesus told Him to do. He put the nets down in deep waters. It says there, “They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (Luke 5:6). Peter broke in the startling abundance. And this truth broke upon me like the tide:

Obedience bursts in abundance. More than all we could ever ask or imagine.

Measured obedience limits the measure of abundance. Throwing caution to the wind opens the door to the sweeping winds of change. I still don’t know where God is leading me personally, but I think that is the point. We will never know the vastness of His vision until we have walked it out with Him upon the waters of the unknown. I only need know that He is calling me: deeper out of my comfort zone, away from the familiar ride of me, where feet may fail. And this fear of failure, of looking foolish, of drowning in the open sea – these are the primary reasons we wait it out, or try lesser things (little risk to me type of things). But a toe in the water is better than staying where we are.

Deep calls to deep. The call of God calls to God’s Spirit within you. The strands of His nature taking shape inside you are like gathered sands upon the shores. The sands are blown and give way to the wind and mighty waves of the ocean. Like this, we are changed by God as we step into the unknown current pulling us further out, away from self. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, causing streams of Living Water to well up to overflowing. Our lives can be the net-breaking abundance only to the degree that we step into the great unknown.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters wherever you may call me” –Hillsong, Oceans

3 thoughts on “Where Feet May Fail

  1. It’s interacting, I often see the mountain as something far away; the journey. Your perspective makes the journey that much more personal – when the mountain is yourself. Thank you for sharing. You got me thinking.

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