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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Stepping out

Transitions are a part of life. Changing is part of who we are. Some invite transition; others accept little change. All of us are at different stages. And with each stage come new challenges. Each challenge brings us closer to stepping out. Where are you?

I’m ready to begin, ready to start my journey, ready to permanently leave. I’ve been in this metaphorical boat far too long. Daily I dance in cramped confines­—stopping only to rest and lean over the side. I want nothing more but to be out. When I dance the boat rocks. Sometimes I wish it would capsize. Then I’d have no choice.

It’s a rowboat. I like my rowboat. It’s very comfortable and I don’t want to leave. I restored it myself. I don’t have to leave. I painted the exterior a dark-navy blue. I’m told to stay. I also varnished the solid oak benches. “The waves” are right. I even polished the bright-white interior. Why would I leave? I think you’d like my boat. What does your boat look like?

For years I’ve rowed the open sea. Land seems just out of reach. Each time I get closer to landing, the wind shifts, the waves fight and I’m turned around. What I’m left with is an insatiable desire to experience more. Occasionally an opportunity will float by and I eagerly catch it with a net. But with each opportunity gained there’s more desire to explore. What else is out there?

Others swim. I don’t remember if I can swim. The water looks treacherous, deep, cold and unknown. Maybe I won’t step out. Why would I leave my boat? What if I get tired? The wind is against me. It will surely attack and call on the waves to remind me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed.

“Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why do you doubt?’ ” (Matthew 14:27-32).

Why do we doubt? Why don’t we trust? Jesus commands us to leave the boat. Doesn’t he? Still—we don’t. There comes a point when we must trust. We must answer his call. Must we? Just as we transition at different points, we are ready to step out at different times. Jesus is constantly stretching out his hand, inviting us to change.

Let’s begin to trust. Adventure waits. Why stay? Live. Perhaps you’ve already left? Relying on your strength to swim through life? It seems many do. At least you got out. But wouldn’t it be easier to walk on water?

For those ready to leave—now—hear the words of author and Presbyterian pastor John Ortberg: “If you want to walk on the water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.”

Step out. Seems simple.


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