jesus,  spirituality,  Uncategorized

out of the boat living

While I’d rather be like Andy Samburg sporting a nautical themed pashmina afghan on a boat, life has felt much more like the disciple Peter- half-sinking, half-having faith that Jesus is able to grasp ahold of me and keep me from drowning.

where would you rather be?

Our move to Cleveland was in many ways been an experience of stepping out of our own comfortable nautical vessel- being near family, having a secure funding network in a job that requires us to raise 100% of our support (Grand Rapids consistently ranks high among charitible giving across U.S. cities), and all the other comforts that living in one place for 10 years affords.  It took us two years of praying about moving to Cleveland to finally pack up the u-haul, or what was actually a trade show trailer from a deer farm (thanks C.J. & Adrian!) and get our butts to the shores of Lake Erie.

As we consistently sensed Jesus inviting us to trust him that Cleveland was the land he wanted us to go to-  we started joking that we shouldn’t imagine Cleveland as the promised land. We joked that just because Jesus was inviting us to put down roots, buy a house, make some more babies and get involved in the community didn’t mean it would be without challenges.  I know the worlds “cleveland” and “promised land” seem like oxymorons, but to us trusting and believing that God wants good things for us even if they seem strange was a risk we wanted to take. Funny that we should use those words “promised land” because in some ways it has felt more like being an desert-wandering Israelite.

are we there yet?

Ironically, Velocity- the  church we’ve gotten involved with has been studying the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, their wandering in the desert and the scouting out of the promised land.  As our small group studied Numbers 13 recently  I was struck that though the Israelites they had seen the good things God had for them when they reached the promised land- the amazingly beautiful and fertile land, the giant clusters of grapes and lush pomegranates, (which must have looked really good after eating manna in the desert for 40 years) that there were only two people who thought they could actually enter it. Joshua and Caleb were the only leaders who believed that though they would have to fight for the land, it was worth it because God was with them. I don’t know if the other Israelites thought they’d waltz in, plop down some pink lawn flamingos and be sipping mai tai’s but when they realized that taking possession of the land and promises of God would actually be difficult and cost them something- their lives, their comfort, the work of cultivating the land they freaked out and spent many more years wandering in the desert.

Though we had called Cleveland “the promised land”, our fears about what this move would cost us have been real. Difficulty renting/selling our MI house, lack of relational networks and losing funding were all huge barriers that we weighed whether we should move. And all of those fears have been realized and all have been really difficult and scary.  There are days when the stress of the bills for paying for two mortgages and for the cost to get our MI house rent-ready amount to pity parties about the things I don’t have, anger about why things are more difficult than I thought they’d be, and depression that there doesn’t really seem like a clear end in sight.

why do so many of us think that this is what following Jesus will be like?

Somehow in the midst of this when I do spend time in scripture being reminded of who God says he is, what he is able to do and that he’s with me through all of these things. I remember that when I feel like I’m drowning in worry, the $600 bill of our furnace in MI breaking, or just missing my friends, Jesus extends his hand to me to lead, guide and reassure me that he is present. Out of the boat living feels crazy because it’s made us need to trust Jesus in new ways to provide for, to be present in our lives and to trust that he really has us here for the good things he promises to all his people.


  • Coleman

    I love the image of Peter as he is sinking, glancing back at the boat (what has become a metaphor for his life before meeting Jesus) and all its security, and then turning back to look at Jesus and reaching out his hand to something that feels less certain, but offers the only way out of this life’s stormy weather. Etta James had it right, but she just didn’t know that her man was Jesus:

    Don’t know why
    There’s no sun up in the sky
    Stormy weather
    Since my man and I ain’t together
    Keeps raining all of the time
    Oh yeah, life is bad
    Gloom and misery everywhere
    Stormy weather, stormy weather
    And I just can get my poor self together
    Oh, I’m weary all of the time
    The time, so weary all of the time
    When he went away
    The blues walked in and met me
    Oh yeah, if he stays away
    Old rockin’ chair is gonna get me
    All I do is pray, the Lord will let me
    Walk in the sun once more
    Oh, I can’t go on, can’t go on, can’t go on
    Everything I have is gone
    Stormy weather, stormy weather
    Since my man and I
    Me and my daddy ain’t together
    Keeps raining all of the time
    Oh oh, keeps raining all of the time
    Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, raining all of the time
    Stormy, stormy, stormy weather, yeah

    • Jessica

      good old etta! This song always makes me think of when they do the financial reports on NPR- they use this song when the markets are down 🙂

  • April

    It’s hard when you KNOW that God won’t let you sink, yet you still feel yourself being pulled down into a swirling vortex. Your point about the Promised Land was really good, though: just because God leads you somewhere it doesn’t mean you don’t have to put some work into it.

    I’m going to remember that. Thanks for sharing it.

    Hang in there. Last year JB said to me that we just have to be like Frodo. We have no idea how we will survive 2011 but we might as well live the adventure. Here’s to the adventure! (Though I’d be really geeked if it meant I had a Hobbit Home in the end.)

    • Jessica

      thanks for your encouragement april 🙂 Hurray to adventure- even if it does mean we have to go to Mordor and back at least we have friends to help us along the way. I just hope my feet won’t look like Frodo’s at the end of the journey!

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