“Often the very things that you think have disqualified you are the ones that qualify you to do what God has called you to do”. – Christine Caine
John the Baptist understood that personal peril is sometimes the price paid for doing the right thing. Matthew 14 tells us a story of the then ruler of Galilee who married his brother’s wife. John courageously stood up to the ruler and told him about the inappropriateness of the marriage to his brother’s wife. The ruler jailed John for speaking the truth and later had John beheaded as a trade-off in a game of pawns. However, John was confident and resolute in the face of difficulty and danger. He was “all in”, beating down the flame of fear with the fan of faith, even in the most daunting situations. David Foster tells us in Through The Fire, “Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall…I’d gladly risk it all. Through the fire, through whatever, come what may…I’d take it all the way; Right down to the wire, even through the fire.”
John the Baptist had a unique way about him. The bible describes him as wearing camels’ hair with a leather belt and living off of locusts and wild honey. The bible does not speak to any special training John had to qualify him to do the incredible things he did. But his off-the-beaten-path approach made him extremely resourceful and gave him an understanding that with God, focus, and discipline, anything is possible. He was all in and in it to win it.
A few years ago, I was vacationing in a coastal city near the Pacific Ocean with some friends. One of my friends had mobility issues but was unwilling to be deterred from full participation in all activities. One afternoon, we set off on a snorkeling trip. I was simply tagging along with the group as I had no desire to snorkel. With a floatation device I was okay in the water, but I had only taken a few swimming lessons and was not a good swimmer. We set out on a 40 ft vessel with several other passengers. Our boat pulled into a very narrow lane with several other boats to off-load the swimmers and snorkelers. I felt a bit uneasy because there was too much going on in a highly congested area; too many swimmers and too many boats in too small of an area in very choppy water.
All passengers, except me and a guy, got off the boat and into the water. After a few minutes, a voice told me to put my equipment on and get into the water. At first I hesitated because I could not discern if it was the Spirit or my ego talking to me. Eventually, in an act of obedience, I sat on the bottom step of the ladder, put everything on and got into the water. It took a few seconds to settle my nerves. I then adjusted my mask and stuck my face in the water to see any marine life beneath me. There wasn’t anything swimming below me. I thought, “okay…I have been tricked by my ego into entering these crowded waters. Thankfully I am only a few feet from the boat. I am done.” As I took my now fogged-up mask off to find the stairs to the boat, I noticed that there was something wrong with my mobility-impaired friend. Without a second thought, I put my mask back on, stuck my head in the water, and kicked as hard as I could until I reached her. By then, she was panicked. She had a sense of loss of control as she was being battered by the waves and was swallowing too much water.
When I reached her, I tried to make her feel a little bit more secure by turning her towards me, wrapping my legs around her, and taking her mask off so she could see me. Whatever sanity she had left was then surrendered to full-bore panic. At that moment, she began to fight me. She then pulled away from me, floundered and flailed under a catamaran, and grabbed hold of the chain on its lowered anchor. I put my face back in the water and kicked towards her until I reached her again. I began to ask her what was wrong. Whatever she was yelling at me was immediately muffled by the roar of the catamaran’s engine being turned on. I took off my fogged-up mask, I guess to stare death in its eyes. Instead, I saw the chain of the boat’s anchor begin to rise with my friend attached to it. I called out to God and surrendered. I admitted that I was in way over my head. I committed to accepting His will, following His guidance, and never quitting.
He led me to grab her waist and then to climb up her back, with the hopes that the pressure of my weight would drop us from the chain. When it didn’t, I wrapped my legs around her ever-rising body and rocked back until we fell. I then laid on my back with my arm around my friend’s neck and kicked as hard as I could to exit from the front underside of the catamaran. I then yelled the names of the others in our party and told them to call for help as I held my listless friend. Other swimmers immediately came to our rescue and summoned the help needed to get us back safely.
2 Timothy 1:7 tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” Obedience has a hefty price but that doesn’t change that it is the right thing to do…and look at the difference it can make in someone’s life. Obedience doesn’t require specialized skills. But, it can place the least likely person in a position to help. When we take God with us and we take a focused and disciplined approach to doing what he asks, He uses our uniqueness to make great things happen. Remember, “The impossible is where God starts and miracles are what he does.” – Christine Caine
What are the difficulties in our circumstances that test our convictions? Are we willing to be obedient at all cost? Are we willing to let our faith take us through the fire, to the wall, to the limit? Or will we be daunted by fear and hold back? While it was faith that let Peter walk on water, his doubts about the limits of God caused him to sink.
Chris Tomlin says it best in No Turning Back with, “This is my heart cry, though none go with me; the cross before me, the world behind me. This is my anthem: my life for your fame. My every move bring glory to your name. I will follow you (I have decided, I have decided). I will follow you (I have decided). No turning back! No turning back!! No turning back!!! No turning back!!!!”
The experience has brought me here:
- Panic can turn a terrible situation into a tragedy
- Faith brings clarity and breeds courage
- The impossible becomes the likely when God is in control
- Our all is not His limit
God has no limits to what He can do. So take it to the limit and see what He will do with it! “The mountains shake before Him; the demons run and flee at the mention of the name King of Majesty. There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I am. Hallelujah, Holy Holy, God almighty, Great I am. Who is worthy, none beside Thee, God Almighty, Great I Am.” Great I am – Phillips, Craig, and Dean