It was seven years ago this week, {October 10th to be exact} the day I’ve held in my heart as the day that I knew I’d heard the Lord irrevocably say “Go.” I was waiting for an answer to a prayer I’d been praying for a long time, and it came in a slightly unexpected way.

Back in 2004, among those long days of summer where darkness barely has a moment to lay across the land, I took a brief trip to Scotland with a team of people that were preparing to plant a church there. I wasn’t planning to help plant a church in Scotland. I’d just been invited by a darling friend who said she’d been praying about the trip and felt the Lord direct her to invite me. I prayed and kind of thought, “well, why not?”

For a week, we walked the streets of Edinburgh, visited Linlithgow, Stirling and the historic fields at Bannockburn (think the major battle in Braveheart) and scouted out the land. We spoke to college students and prayed a lot. I met a friend named Julie who’d come up from London to join the team, and who instantly become very dear to my heart. {She was later a bridesmaid at my wedding.} I decided at the end of the trip to change my flight to spend a couple more days in London with Julie before heading home.


{My first look over Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat, June 2004}

And then a strange thing happened. The plane took off as we left Edinburgh, London-bound, and I found myself crying. And not like glistening tears, more like borderline ugly cry/hide my face from the passengers sitting beside me as I try to tell the flight attendant, Sure, I’d like some breakfast. Not understanding the meaning of it, I began to pray.

Those prayers over the next few days in London and back in NC eventually resulted in a very specific one, from my heart, but I think originating first in the Lord’s. Remembering him considering getting out of the boat to walk to Jesus, I echoed the words of Peter in a simple prayer:

Lord, if it’s You, bid me come.

{Indirection which may lead to direction: In the story I’m referencing from Matthew 14, the disciples are in a boat, late at night, on a stormy sea, when Jesus comes walking to them on the water. Peter sees Jesus and asks, “Lord, if it’s You, bid me come to You on the water.” Jesus says, “Come” and Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water to Him. He gets nervous and starts sinking, but that’s a story for another day.}

For four months, alongside the other people I was praying for and things I was praying about, my heart’s cry repeated that simple chorus: Lord, if it’s You, bid me come.

My stirring was so strongly leaning towards certainty that the Lord’s will was for me to return to Scotland, I spoke with a pastor at my church (the church In Greenville where HH and I are now based, coming full circle) and we agreed doing an internship at a different church up in the Triangle (the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel-Hill area of North Carolina) would be a good idea in preparation, since many folks moving to Scotland would be leaving from that church.

Less than two months later, I’d moved home, taken up a job at a pawn shop (because I had to pay bills), and begun an internship at King’s Park International Church. I wasn’t confident that I’d heard the Lord’s call yet, but I kind of felt like the phone was already ringing.

Then one weekend I was back in Greenville for a church service where another dear friend of mine was being prayed over because she was moving to work for a church in New York. There was a guest speaker that Sunday, and his sermon quickly got my attention.

The title of the sermon was “Living on the Water” and some of the key points I made note of that day were:

  • God is calling us today to leave our boats and live on the water with Him. Boats are manmade and though you put your trust, beliefs and traditions in them, God knows how to sink those boats.
  • There is a cost involved in stepping away from our own boat.

The speaker went on to talk about the different types of boats we build, and he spoke specifically about the importance of believing and not doubting, by saying, “Unbelief makes you double-minded. This gets in you and you question everything. ‘I want to be sincere… I want to be sure…’ God wants you to come out of the boat full of what-ifs and trust Him. You will not be the first person God never met at their faith.

I think I added these thoughts in my notes: It was dark and Peter didn’t see a brilliant light and certainty and clearness. Jesus told Him to step out By Faith, Not by Sight.

Do you ever get the feeling that a speaker, though talking to a large crowd, was somehow backstage reading your mail before he got up to speak? There I was.

I got back home to Raleigh that evening and with honest and sincere faith, prayed (among other things) “Lord, forgive me for sitting in the double-minded boat of unbelief. I’ve been afraid to apply Your Word to my life and trust that I hear from You. Instead of beginning to step out and trust You, I’ve made up excuses, opted for easier routes, and even listened to the enemy whispering “Did God really say…”

I also admitted in prayer, “I’ve been afraid to think that the desires of my heart (like going to Scotland) could or would be fulfilled, and I felt like I didn’t deserve it and I wasn’t in the right place.”

{Have you ever been there?}

That night, I was finally certain of the Lord’s calling. Certain He had a big plan, and certain it wouldn’t happen if I didn’t get out of the boat.

I couldn’t sum up the lessons, the adventures, the joy, and even the challenges that have brought me from that day to this one in a hundred nutshell sermons. But if there’s one thing I can communicate about it all right here and now, it’s my certainty that walking on water will only happen if we’re willing to get out of the boat.