In the boat with Jesus—and a giveaway!

Ever since I started genuinely following Jesus, I’ve felt an almost desperate longing for more of Him. For revelations that can only come from God. For a deeply passionate and intimate faith.

But I can only go so far in that direction before I falter.

My heart longs for more of God, it really does. Even in my lesser moments. But, inevitably there comes a time when it gets hard to keep living out my faith. Really hard. (Or I get bored. Or busy. Or discouraged. Or I feel like He’s not listening—or maybe that I have nothing to say.)

At those times, I’m not sure I have what it takes to stick with it. There’s a verse in James chapter 4 that says, “You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” In context, it’s talking about not knowing what will happen tomorrow, about the insignificance of our lifetimes in the span of eternity.

But every time I read it, I’m haunted by the certainty that it’s Jesus speaking to me.

I am like a mist… I’m here now, but before long—tomorrow? next week? an hour from now?—I’ll vanish. I’m a vapor. Not solid. Impermanent. Uncertain. Fickle. Not dedicated enough. Weak and weary. All too aware of my lack of discipline, my inability to stay focused on one thing for the long term. I know that I can do all things through Christ. I know that He has called me, and that when I let myself abide in that holy place with Him, my abilities (or lack thereof) fall away and His take over.

And yet, some days the responsibility that comes from wholly committing to this life weighs heavy on me. The knowledge of my weaknesses immobilizes me.

51svFT1o0FL._SX321_BO1204203200_I recently read an Advance Copy of Suzie Eller’s new book, Come with Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads. There are so many things I would like to share with you, but I’ll stick to the one that truly stopped me in my tracks.

Remember in Matthew 4 and Mark 1 when Jesus asked Simon Peter and his brother to leave their nets behind and follow Him? They did.

And yet, we see in Luke chapter 5 that Jesus sees two boats, left there by fisherman who were washing their nets at the end of a discouraging night. He gets in the boat belonging to Simon and asks him to put out from the shore.

Here’s what I never noticed: At some point, Simon went back to fishing.

He was weary and wasn’t catching anything. Jesus had him try one more time, and this time the results were spectacular—but what came before that is the bigger point: Jesus waited in the boat for Simon to come to him. No shame, no beating him up for disappearing again. Jesus knew just where Simon Peter would be, so He went to him.

And Jesus knew just where He would find me—returning again and again to my old ways. He knew that, just as Simon was having no luck at all, catching no fish, feeling tired and discouraged, so was I. When I hurt my arm, I got weeks of much-needed time off work. A dear friend commented one day that I was given this gift of time, so why would I fill it up with the same ol’, same ol’? Why not do things differently this time?

Indeed. Because clearly my old way of doing things wasn’t working so well. No fish in my nets—no margins. I didn’t have time for the people who matter the most. I didn’t have the energy to reach out and do things for people, to be God’s hands extended. I didn’t have the kind of prayer life I want to have.

So I’ve pondered and prayed. I’ve let my crowded mind slow to a leisurely pace, accepting the fact that I need help and cannot do it all myself. I’m evaluating the way I work, the tasks that fill my days, and who I think God made me to be.

And what I’ve discovered during these weeks of figuring out who I am when I’m not being defined by my work is that I’m not doing it alone. All along, Jesus has been sitting in my boat.

I don’t want to meet Him and follow Him temporarily. I don’t want it to be a phase I move in and out of. I want to commit. To follow Him—truly follow Him—without limits.

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Jesus is waiting in my boat for me to push out from the shore of who I’ve been and row towards who He wants me to be. I’m not having to do it alone. I’m moving forward with the One who knows where we’re going. The One who knows what I need to do. The One who sees me, understands me, and inspires me.

But the biggest miracle, as Suzie Eller pointed out at a retreat I attended, is this: when I cast out into deeper waters, even if I never have any fish—the miracle is that I am experiencing a deeper walk with God. As she wrote, “Where we go is not nearly as important as who we go with.”

So I am going, with no hesitation whatsoever. Facing forward eagerly and happily. No looking back. Because as long as I’m in the boat with Jesus, there’s no place I’d rather be.

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I’m giving away a copy of Come with Me. To enter, leave a comment below before midnight on May 2, and share where you think God is leading you. Or what He’s asking you to say yes to. If you don’t win, you can order the book here or from your favorite retailer. It releases on May 3. #livefree #comewithme

22 Responses to “In the boat with Jesus—and a giveaway!”

  1. I am in a bumpy journey that has many challenges. But I am clinging to Him as best I can.

  2. Shelly says:

    Jesus is leading me to a greater more powerful relationship with Him through reading The Word. And through that Word He has rescued me from the grave. Psalm 107:20 Amen!

  3. M ary Ann says:

    Jesus is leading me to live a more selfless life in the manner of my mother. She just passed away after a beautiful life of sacrifice and dedication to the Father. Even at the end, she never complained, just smiled and encouraged her caregivers til she met her Lord. Praise be for a life well lived. Thanks to God for such a role model. A big undertaking, but I can reach it with His help.

  4. Jill Buford says:

    He is leading me to Him. To stay close and stop doing things on my own.

  5. Cindy Krall says:

    “He knew right where he’d find Simon.” What a faithful Father we have. (I have a copy…praying for the book to go to the sweet soul that needs it most!)

  6. Cheryl Johnson says:

    I’m in many unwanted places right now, lonely, widow, caring for my mental I’ll adult daughter, unemployed, doubt, and the list goes on. I’ve done many things in my early adult hood that I’m embarrassed and ashamed by ….having frequent thoughts that God hates me and I’m just wasting space on this earth but I know my God loves me. He has showed me soo many times over and over his love for me. Satan get behind me, I’m worthy, smart, capable of all things, you will not rob, steal or kill my Joy….Peace….and Strength. I’m getting in the boat with Jesus, side by his side. No other place I rather be. I will pass my CDL license test. I will own and operate my own Interior Design and Post Interior Construction Cleaning business. I will serve my communty, I will get that flex Interior Design position close to home with a,prestige company. I am loved! No body but Jesus.

    • Praying that you will continue to be able to remember that because God loves you, you are worthy. He is right there with you. Especially when things are tough. Hang in there—cling tight to Jesus, who’s right there with you.

  7. missie b says:

    This is a great blog post, Kelly Stanley! I’m not sure how you do it. but, you are inside of my head. (careful, it’s scary in there) anyway, I’m not sure where I’m being led. I just know that I’m being led by God. like many others, I fail each and every minute of every day to really listen to His voice and His word. I am making a list of the books that you’ve suggested and have learned from and like Cindy Krall my prayer is for this book to go to someone who is needing the reassurance and nudge to be still and know.

  8. Julia Kirk says:

    I believe God is asking me to get out of my comfort zone and minister to broken women in the prisons. Showing them the love of God and how great his mercy and grace is. They often feel unloved, unlovable and unworthy of love but God loves them all and wants them to know that love. How deep and how wide it is.

  9. Shelly, you brought tears to my eyes. I so badly want God to speak to people through my words, and it is humbling when someone tells me He has. I find it comforting to know that I’m not the only one who feels lost. I just emailed someone else in response to this post, and I reminded her (and myself) of one of my favorite verses. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). I thank God for that. He stands firm even when we struggle… that our boats don’t capsize but stay afloat because He is there with us. Thanks so much for sharing your struggles. xo

  10. Tara says:

    Right now I am not sure where God is leading me. I am continuing to seek His guidance and direction in my life. My life is not what I thought it would look like but I know and cling to the promise that God has a good plan for my life and a great future in store. I struggle with insecurities, anxiety and other emotional issues but I am learning to Trust God more and try to have a closer relationship with Him. Daily I struggle and stumble in my walk but I do know that He wants me to follow Him and not to give up.

  11. Where is Jesus leading me? Into a life of fuller forgiveness and bigger love. It’s a journey, and anyone who can help me along this narrow path is most welcome to join me.

    • This narrow path is going to get awfully crowded! But that’s a very good thing, when we all come together as we seek more of Jesus. When we ask Him to change our hearts and help us love like He does, oh, how He answers!

  12. Right now, God is leading me to write a novel. I thought I was a non -fiction writer who dabbled in short fiction. But as I press on deeper in this book, I’m discovering how much a I love writing fiction…and developing the characters. It is really hard work, and my pritagonist atarta out at nine years old in the first person–a voice that is trickier than I thought. But as long as God continues to show up when I sit down, I keep writing. In the same vein (weird expression), I believe God has been leading me to not just live, but to enjoy a simpler life. Writing is such lonely work, and when we withdraw to enjoy a simpler life on top of that, it is easy to be disconnected and detached from the body of Christ and even from God. Sounds like a great read, Kelly.

    • I love when God leads us places we never expected to go :-). Hoping you’re able to close in with God and yet also have people in your life who help build you up and encourage you as you write. Good luck!

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