I didn't send this letter to you yesterday because I was scared.
That's what happened, plain and simple.
I shared with you last week that I've entered into a pretty major professional transition and am being asked to exercise faith in some new ways. I told you this new season of faith is harder than other ones I've faced.
The word "scared" shows up in my vocabulary a lot these days. That's what I keep noticing. Over and over, I'm saying that word.
I'm also noticing that when I'm scared, I want to run and hide.
Last week I shared with you the image of a canoe, how I saw Jesus standing before me on the water and he offered me his hand. I took his hand and stepped out of the canoe, and together we walked on water.
But when I'm scared — and that's most of the time these days, really — all I want to do is go back to that canoe, curl up in one end of it, and cover myself completely with a blanket.
I keep listening to that "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" song that I also shared with you last week, and I find it such a comfort. It speaks so much where I am living right now. I love having songs that are seemingly sent to companion me through a particular season, don't you?
And yet this song keeps reminding me how crazy it is to live this way — to reallylive by faith. "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander," the song says. "Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders."
To go beyond where our feet can wander on their own? To place no borders or rules around our trust? It's so easy to sing those words with a smile and huge yes inside our hearts. But truly living this way feels like free-falling each and every moment. It feels like dying to our own strength. If we truly mean those prayers, then we're about to learn what dependence really means.
Do we really want that?
People I love keep asking me what makes this season so scary, especially since I've been invited to walk in faith before. What makes this time feel so different?
It keeps coming down to the invitation to move further and further away from my freelance editing business and nearer and nearer my true vocation as a spiritual formation practitioner.
Those two ventures are so very different, at least in the way I'm experiencing them right now.
In my freelance editing business, projects come to me. I then apply various skill sets to them, then send the project back to the client. I receive, complete, and return. It's a very seamless process.
Furthermore, in the nearly 15 years I have spent doing this freelance work, every single project has come my way through no conscious effort of my own. The work has literally landed on my doorstep — or, rather, my inbox — God's provision rained down like fresh new manna for the day.
Moving deeper into my work with Still Forming feels so very different than that. All the new creations that emerge will originate from inside of me. I will intuit and build, intuit and build, trusting that what's being built will be wanted when it's ready. Then I'll spin it out into the ether to find out.
What will happen? I don't know.
Will the offerings be wanted? I don't know.
Will they be needed? I don't know.
All I have is passion and desire in my heart and a fierce sense of calling and obedience. And trust. Trust in the Jesus who calls me out upon the water, deeper than my feet have ever wandered, where my trust is invited to move beyond any existing borders.
Yesterday morning, Kirk and I stepped over the threshold of a nearly 3-year discernment process to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church. It was a very joyous day for us, and we were so moved by the rite of kneeling in front of the bishop and receiving his hands on each of our heads as he said a prayer over us.
Part of the beauty of the day was the bishop's sermon.
The text for this fourth Sunday after Easter was one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, taken from John 10, where Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd whose sheep know his voice and who calls his sheep by name. It's one of the most tender passages in the Gospels, and I love it. That picture of sheep moving — in trust — toward the voice of their shepherd that they've come to know so well just gets me every time.
It reminded me to look and listen for my Jesus.
When I picture him in my mind these days, my mind flies to one of two places. In one image, we're sitting on our favorite cliff's edge, looking over that same ocean where the canoe's been floating down below us, along the waves. We sit on that patch of grass, our legs dangling over the edge, and I look over at him to see his sure and peaceful smile — a smile that knows me.
It erases my fears.
In the second image, I see us, once again, walking on that water, away from the canoe and heading north. Where we're heading, I don't know. But all that matters is him beside me, his hand in mine, us walking where we're heading together.
I will be completely lost in this new season if I don't regularly tune in to those two images. And I think what I'm learning in this new place is that faith, at least for me, right here and now, requires constant tuning in.
Shall I take on this new project being offered to me? Let me turn to the face of my Shepherd and see what he says.
Shall I pick this or that project to develop next for Still Forming? Let me listen for the voice of my Shepherd as we walk together atop the waves.
This is what dependence really looks like for me right now: turning to him in nearly every moment to find out what he says for me to do. I pray I can be faithful. And that turning toward him keeps erasing my fears.
How is faith showing up in your life right now? How are you experiencing it and responding to it?