I used to adventure more. I used to run a little more wild. I used to set sail from the safe harbor more often. I experienced the exciting life that comes from running with Jesus and letting Him have my all. And I loved it! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a radical life with Him was what I wanted. Glory! I knew He was enough for all that life could throw my way.
Then came some hard things. I encountered cancer when my Mom died at 49. I encountered infant loss when my cousin’s four month old baby passed away while I was visiting with my four month old. I encountered miscarriage when I lost two babies.
These losses left me reeling. I had lots of platitudes and nice things to say that were true, but my heart was shattered. I wasn’t sure what to do with the pieces. So I swept them away and put my heart on lockdown. I desperately didn’t want any more pain in life. Desperately didn’t want to encounter any more loss. So I tethered my ship to the harbor and tried to soldier on in life. While carrying my platitudes and true words, but now I was unsure of the reality of them in my heart. I stopped adventuring because I couldn’t handle my own fear.
Life is hard, when you are afraid. Fear is tormenting. Our bodies don’t carry fear well. I hated this new harbor but I was paralyzed, and afraid to leave.
As I read the Word, I kept coming back to Matthew 16:25 “If you try to hang on to your life you will lose it, but if you give up your life for My sake you will save it”. It’s the concept of laying it all down and trusting Him no matter what.
This idea was marvelous when I was young and had never encountered pain or suffering. Now that I have encountered loss, I understand the cost more. Adventuring hasn’t felt as appealing. Yet the “safe harbor” I have resorted to is filled with fear and uncertainty. Instead of being a place of refuge and peace, my own attempts to control and protect have caged my heart and left me feeling weary and burdened and afraid.
So I’m setting sail again. I have decided to adventure. I’ve packed my platitudes because they are still true. But I’m determined to have them be the real walked out message of my life: “God is good”, “All things work together for good” and “The best is yet to come”.
Adventuring means I will take my pain with me as well. I think I thought the safe harbor would be the place to heal. And maybe it was for a season. Or maybe I expected I needed to be healed to leave the harbor. I didn’t realize that grief doesn’t end. I believe I also thought that I needed to have the answers to adventure again. That I needed to have something to offer the world around me that would make all the tragedy not so tragic.
Truthfully, the pain of loss and death and brokeness has no quick fix. While there is hope, there is no instant taking away of the pain. Pain will be felt and grief will come. But, I have found, that sitting with Jesus in my pain is the best thing I can do. He is so gentle with me. He is so compassionate. I try to be real with Him and I know He can handle it. He whispers truth to me. He tells me about who He is and who I am, and the journey ahead. He comforts my heart. He gives me strength to adventure again.
So as I adventure – with still a trembling heart – my message will be; “Jesus is with Me.”
Leaving the harbor looks different to me now, than it did when I was younger. Leaving the harbor used to mean going to crazy war-torn places, with the love of Jesus. It meant being willing to lay down my life. Though that open harbor is an amazing place to sail, I am learning that the small quiet decisions that come in my day-to-day walk are my new open ocean.
Now I am learning to say no to fear. Hello, salt on my face. I am learning to say yes to the work that God has called me too even when it frightens or overwhelms me.
Hello vast horizon. I am learning to lay down my life for my children and love my husband well. Goodbye safe harbor. Because trusting Jesus and saying yes to Him is the best I could wish for. My journey may someday lead to those war-torn places. But, these moment by moment, quiet decisions in the place where no one sees but Him – they are what propel me into the ocean of His love and intimacy.
I’ll take sailing with Him any day over the harbor of my own control and fear.