A few weeks ago, my sister and nieces ages 3 and 9 joined us for a day at the beach. As I watched the girls reactions to the water, I learned much about our reactions to the waves of life. The 3 year old was fearless. She greeted every wave, every new experience with glee. The 9 year old was not fearless. In fact she was downright wary. She didn't like the seaweed that gathers near the shore, so she wouldn't venture more than two feet into the water. I finally convinced her that I could carry her the short distance past the seaweed and then she could enjoy the ocean. Once past the seaweed, I put her down in waist high water. Immediately she was afraid and wanting to go back to shore. This time her fear was that she couldn't see to the bottom. She didn't know what was waiting for her below the surface. My sister held her firmly and told her, "You are okay. I've got you." My niece's reply was, "I don't trust you."
I realized I often react in exactly the same way when God calls me to something new. First, I raise many objections based on what I can see or know about the situation. Then when I conjure a bit of faith to wade in, I get paralyzed by my fear of the unknown. While I've never blatantly said, "I don't trust you." to God, I've acted it out in oh so many ways. When I try to keep all of life in my control, I'm denying trust in God.
As I prepare to begin CPE residency, there are many known reasons to be fearful. The intense schedule, the deep pain and suffering I will see, the wear and tear on my family. And then there are all the unknowns. At the same time, I am well convinced that this is what God is calling me to do and be for the next year. It is important to my formation as a pastor. There will be pain, but there will also be healing. I will be needed, and I may make a difference in someone's life even for a short time.
I have been blessed with a summer off. I am entering CPE with more physical, mental, and spiritual renewal than I've had in several years. I am as prepared as I can be. Now, I pray that God will strengthen my faith that I can walk into this experience with joy and peace, knowing that God will sustain me through the difficulties.
By the way, we left the water for lunch on the beach house deck. My oldest neice was the first one to ask when we would be going back down to the beach. She was able to enjoy the ocean on her own terms for a while.