Faith, Writing
Comments 4

Abandoned Bowlines

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain

Sailors don’t hang about the harbor, dragging anchors and dawdling in the shallows. They go to sea and beyond the known boundaries.

When early global exploration (circa 16th Century) began to grow into a race between European nations, only the hardiest risk-takers needed to apply. The siren song of incredible wealth became a death knell to ship-fulls of adventurers. We know of a few of these sailors, like Columbus and Magellan and later Hudson and John Smith, but there are thousands that died at sea, many far from their destination.  If bad weather didn’t get them, scurvy or dehydration did. They optimistically launched ships from Malaga and Liverpool anticipating easily conquerable islands with cities made of golden bricks, however violence, disease and disaster awaited behind verdant jungles and white-sand shores.

Yet, they pressed on. All risk considered, the race for land acquisition and the natural resources (spices, precious metals, gems, even humans to buy and sell for profit) became a heated sprint between Portugal, Spain, England and Holland. Who could get there first, stake claim for the king and crown and come home with the ship’s belly full of exotic wares and a trade agreement with the local island royalty?

I envision these raucous men as grimy, salt-crusted loners, individuals who had little to lose if they lost everything and so much to gain if they managed to pilfer a few pounds of precious spices to sell on the black market.

I envision risk-takers as people who have little to risk. This reasoning keeps me safe from the edges, the cliffs, the hang-gliders and shark-tanks. I like to believe I have too much to lose, so my only course is to play it safe.

I’m more of a sideliner than a game-changer. I’m a cheerleader and not a play-maker.

I like my harbor and my safety net. I like a regular paycheck and a reliable weather forecast (when I can get one!).

I love the idea and romance of trade winds and exploration, but strolling along a beach alongside a resort is more my speed than spelunking or even ice-fishing.

Throwing off the bowlines is not in my vernacular.

Usually.

As I’ve grown in my understanding of Jesus and God’s word, I’ve come to realize that playing it safe is contradictory to scripture. Blending in with the crowd has very little theology to back it up. 

I wonder if the word “crazy” preposed “apostle” back in the days of the early church?

And how about those pilgrims? They were hiding out in backrooms and alleys in Holland just waiting for a ship to rescue them from certain excommunication from the Church of England and execution by order of their King. They had families, children, businesses — and they risked it all to follow a calling to worship apart from the edicts of the state church. Were they adrenaline-addicts?

I’ve asked God these past few years to redefine my idea of faith. What I’ve learned is that faith is not a quiet, private affair (although it is intensely personal), rather faith is boisterous and exceedingly public.

Faith-living is active and purposeful and productive. Consider a hive of bees. What appears to be chaos is actually high-functioning order that is productive and good for the whole body of the hive. Most bees leave the hive; they spend their days collecting goods from the flowers in the countryside to bring back home. Most bees are risk takers. If not even a lone bee buzzed out, the hive would have no chance at survival.

I have learned that in order for my faith in God to survive and make any sort of difference, I need to leave the “hive”. I may never bungee-jump from a skyscraper in Australia, but I have learned to take steps beyond my self-prescribed risk-free life.

These steps have allowed me to write daily and become a more vulnerable writer that seeks God’s leading in my craft.

These steps have led me to discover Ethiopia personally.

These small moves into the realm of my unknown have shown me ways to explore, dream and discover.

I can explore ideas. I can dream about ways I can contribute to the good in someone else’s life. I can discover characteristics of God, dimensionally, rather than simply reading or hearing of them. I can live them, like we spoke of before, with poetry and a passion that burns through the experience of life.

“The one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” {Philippians 3:13-14}

Where do we want to be in twenty years? Maybe we won’t physically move, but couldn’t we all benefit from a little personal exploration?

Wouldn’t an expedition of the soul be reviving, exciting, challenging, even?

What is your “safe harbor”? Perhaps God’s been nudging you to open your sails of thought and imagination, free your rudder and pull up anchor and trust him to lead you, to explore with you, dream with you, discover with you.

Who knows? You might find yourself, that treasure so great that Jesus died to save it. You may discover a love and a passion that will bring you more fulfillment than you ever imagined.

I feel the winds changing… don’t you?

 

 

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. Fabulous post! I particularly liked these 2 paragraphs:

    “As I’ve grown in my understanding of Jesus and God’s word, I’ve come to realize that playing it safe is contradictory to scripture. Blending in with the crowd has very little theology to back it up.”

    “I’ve asked God these past few years to redefine my idea of faith. What I’ve learned is that faith is not a quiet, private affair (although it is intensely personal), rather faith is boisterous and exceedingly public.”

    Amen, sister! Following Christ is indeed an adventure! 🙂
    Blessings to you on your radical faith journey!

  2. My safe harbor is my house with my husband’s stable job. I think that security it what helps me take risks in my own life (like quitting my job to go into full time ministry). But what I have to realize, though, is that GOD is my only real safe harbor.

    So glad you linked with SDG!

  3. Our world rocked and my husband could no longer work. God provided work for me, and after 10 years we both “retired.” God provides. We are never forsaken and desolute, or abandoned by HIM. Awesome post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s