**Note**: This is edited from two posts I wrote on my personal blog in Nov. 2007. At the time, I felt compelled to write about this paradigm shift twice, to remind myself of how amazingly transcendent this epiphany was for me.
I share this now because the Spirit prompted me to remember these feelings and thoughts yesterday. I love the word remember ? in the Book of Mormon. Probably because I so desperately need to do it on a regular basis!
I have been very busy and overwhelmed the past few weeks. (While that is a fairly normal state of affairs for me, this has been more intense than usual.) I have had to tell myself to consciously slow down and breath deeply. (Yes, Ray, I really do pay attention when you tell me that all the time!) I have felt like I was drowning, and even had the thought that now I know what the edge of a panic attack must feel like.
And then came this gentle reminder from a loving Savior ?
A very wise friend posted a blog about this quote from F. David Lee. You can read this amazing thought (and her insights) here.
In the interest of time, I will quote some highlights that really jumped out at me and share my thoughts on them.
* The scriptures speak of the trial of faith ? (Ether 12:6) through which we must pass, indicating that the faith-building process is not automatic. Instead, it is a learning process a mandatory sequence for all who would inherit eternal life.
“Learning process — a mandatory sequence…” So much of life is a mandatory learning process! It’s okay to still be learning as I go along life’s path!! It’s not automatic. I don’t have to know it all before I venture out and make decisions and simply *live.*
* Each step Peter took away from the ship was a trial of his faith; each step toward Jesus took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival. And each step was a voluntary one; he was under no compulsion to leave the ship and respond to the Lord’s call to Come. ?
I like the phrase “took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival.” I LIKE my comfort zones; it is hard for me to step beyond my “accustomed means of survival.” But stepping beyond is part of the learning experience! Yet every step is voluntary. Christ calls me to come unto Him, but He doesn’t force me to come on His timetable — His grace allows me to come unto Him on my timetable… not all at once, but progressing one step at a time, ever nearer to Him.
* As we learn the gospel and develop our faith, we reach the point where we feel strong enough to leave the boat; we determine to stand free from worldly supports and voluntarily walk by faith through the tempest toward our Savior. Each step for us may be a trial. The waves around us are as real in their way as Peter’s waves were to him.
THIS is what really hit me from F. David Lee’s quote. The past few years have been very difficult and challenging ones in many ways for me (and for my family). This thought is like a light bulb or lightning bolt for me. Part of my floundering, part of my more recent spirals, come PRECISELY because I AM FURTHER AWAY FROM THE BOAT. I am walking by faith and leaving the safety and stability of the boat, and moving through the tempest of my life toward the Savior. So when I flounder, when I take my eye off Christ and notice the storms raging around me, I start to sink… and I know I’m too far away from the boat to reach safety on my own! I am not a strong swimmer (physically) and the thought of being too far away from tangible safety freaks me out (emotionally). My waves are real; my trials are real. Each step I take on the water is part of the trial of my own personal faith and of my journey towards Christ.
* Our efforts to meet the trials of our faith our footsteps over life’s treacherous waters have somehow re-oriented us, and we reach out for safety, not to the boat, as we would have done in earlier times, but to the outstretched hand of the Savior. Hand grasps hand, and we are pulled to the Master…
My faith and hope is that I can still (even with my insecurities, weaknesses, problems, and sins) walk on the water with faith in my Savior’s outstretched hand to catch me when I start to slip. So part of my learning process is to stop reaching back toward the security of the boat and to start truly turning to Him and reach for His hand — for He is where the real and lasting safety lies. He will always be there to catch me.
* Jesus calms the storm.
One of my favorite scriptures says “Be still, and know that I am God.” He offers peace, rest, love, security, safety, and stability — all those things that I crave and need so desperately. Truly, when I am able to “still” myself, I am able to see His hand in my life and recognize that He calms every storm in my life.
It has been enlightening and empowering to realize my recognition and admission that I am stronger than I used to be — and I am therefore moving away from my “accustomed means of survival,” taking the chance of stepping beyond the safety of the boat, and voluntarily walking by faith toward Christ. The realization that some of my more recent struggles have come PRECISELY because I am further away from the boat is astounding to me; the waves are more pronounced out in the open water and I am too far away to reach back and grab the edge of the boat.
Part of the epiphany and paradigm shift for me comes because I have realized that I don’t WANT to reach back to the boat as I “would have done in earlier times” (and I’ve reached back frequently!) — I now want to reach forward, toward my Savior, and rely on His saving grace to rescue me when I have walked as far as I can out on those choppy and tempestuous waves. His hand is outstretched, and He is there, willing and able to catch me, rescue me, bring me home. “Hand grasps hand…” He does, indeed, calm every inner storm within my heart and mind, as well as every outer tumultuous challenge and mundane responsibility I face as a mortal here on earth.
I believe and trust Christ. I know He knows me and my needs. I know I have felt His presence in my life. I have felt the deep and abiding peace that comes from His hope and comfort. I know He is my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Friend.
Yet there is more to understanding and accepting His grace than I have previously experienced. My paradigm shift allows me to more fully accept His gift of grace. I do this, in part, by reaching forward, reaching toward Christ, instead of continually looking back and trying to grab the boat. He knows (and now *I* know!!) that I am past that point; that to grow and progress, I need to take the risk of walking the open water and truly trusting that He will be there when I start to sink.
I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to reach this level of understanding, but I’m grateful for the opportunities and learning curves that have brought me to this point. It is another moment (among many such moments) that I can pinpoint with certainty, a moment when my testimony and my knowledge have converged with the Spirit to absolutely and completely change my perspective and my life, without question and without reserve.
Walking by faith in this manner, and with this viewpoint, I believe I am finally recognizing within myself what He has seen all along. I am stronger than I thought I was! With His help I can walk on water, without holding onto the fears and weaknesses that formerly held me bound to the “boat.” I can survive life’s tempests! What a freeing and life-altering vision!! What an astounding gift from Christ. “I stand all amazed…”