Get Out Of The Boat!
In thinking about discerning God’s call on our lives, I’d like to share a personal testimony of a time when God called me to a ministerial position within the body of PWOC. In the summer of 2009 our family had just moved from Ft. Leavenworth, KS to Ft. Bragg, NC. I immediately started attending the summer session of our local PWOC where they were studying, “If You Want To Walk On Water, You Have To Get Out Of The Boat,” by John Ortburg. This book reflects on the passage in Matthew 14 where Christ bids Peter to meet Him on the water. God used this study in a powerful way to reveal His calling on my life. First, I was challenged to facilitate a workshop at the Southeast Regional Conference that Fall of 2009 which was held in Atlanta, GA. I had facilitated local Bible study classes but had never facilitated a workshop. This was a huge step of faith for me. Once out of the boat I found myself thinking, “What am I doing? I can’t do this!” Like Peter, walking on water seemed an impossible task, especially when I looked at the wind and the waves. Little did I know, this was only my first step on the water. While at conference, God began to speak to my heart regarding serving on the Southeast Regional Board. During the Friday morning general session meeting, the regional chaplain prayed for the women who would be serving on the upcoming board. As he prayed, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Step Out!” This caught me completely off guard. I responded, “Lord, if this is You, I need You to make this very clear to me. This is nowhere I want to step if Your not calling me.” I quickly threw out a Gideon fleece and added to my heart prayer, “I need You Lord to bring someone to ask me to serve on the regional board before I leave this conference room if this is You.” After the chaplain prayed one of the ladies serving on the regional selection committee spoke and said, “I believe God is calling some of you to get out of the boat!” My heart rate picked up as I sensed God was speaking directly to me to step out of the boat!
As I was leaving the general session on my way to a workshop, I was stopped by one of the ladies who had been serving on the current regional board, Melinda Hemphill. I was almost out the door when Melinda asked if I could wait a minute because she wanted to talk to me. As she finished her conversation with another lady and I patiently stood by waiting, I asked myself, “Is she getting ready to ask me about serving on the regional board? Could this really be you Lord?” Well, guess what? She did! She asked me if I had considered serving on the regional board. I told her, “Well, I hadn’t until about five minutes ago.” I agreed to pray over it and in my heart I said, “Lord, You’ve got my attention!” After that morning session I had several other ladies at conference share with me, “Stacie, you should pray about serving on the regional board.” God’s call became ever more clearer, focused and intense. I guess God thought, your already out of the boat, just keep walking. So, I did! And, I said yes to God and served as the PWOC Southeast Regional Vice President from 2009 – 2011.
As I reflect back on this season of ministry, I’d like to share with you some of the water walking lessons I learned…
1. One of the first lessons I learned was that the initial step of exiting the boat was definitely the most challenging! Once you
overcome your fear and surrender to the call of God and step out in faith, God is so faithful and meets you right where you are. He is so faithful to grant you the grace, strength, vision and provision to fulfill His call on your life. Like in the old Indiana Jones movie when Harrison Ford steps out over a cliff because he knows by faith it’s the right path to take. There’s no bridge. By all natural reason he is going to quickly fall to his death. But, as soon as he steps out, a bridge suddenly appears. Instead of plumeting to the depths of that bottomless pit he is able to walk across safely and securely. Suddenly, there is a way where there seemed to be no way! That’s the way it is with God, we take the step of faith in obedience to His call and then His strong arm appears and hold us up. “We walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)
2. Secondly, In Experiencing God, there is a chapter that talks about faith which is extremely powerful! The author, Henry Blackaby, introduces the concept of a God-sized assignment. He says, “When God invites you to join Him in His work, He has a God-sized assignment for you. You will realize that you cannot do it on your own. If God doesn’t help you, you will fail.” Over the years I have thought a lot about God-sized assignments. As I did this study I recognized many of the ministries I had been involved in prior to serving on the regional board could’ve been accomplished in my own strength or flesh had I chosen not to seek the Lord. Granted, that work would not have been anointed but it could’ve been accomplished. In serving as the Southeast Regional VP there was no doubt that this was a God-sized assignment for me. I know that there is absolutely no way that work could’ve ever been accomplished without God’s favor, grace, blessing, provision, guidance and many other, “Workers together for Christ!” So, I ask you, “Could God possibly be calling you to a God-sized assignment at PWOC this year?”
3. Another lesson I learned was once I was out on the water answering God’s call to serve on the regional board, the Lord gave me the verse, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord.” (Psalm 37:23) The Lord assured me He would guide me step by step through this entire two year planning process. Truly, “He who called me was faithful and He did it!” (1 Thess. 5:24) He guided me step by step. First, He provided an assistant. Then, God guided us to the conference site which was at Ridgecrest in the mountains of NC. We did all the contracting for the site and then God guided us to the speaker. That’s another story… but Lysa Terkeurst was our keynote speaker. Awesome! Then, He guided us to our Praise & Worship leader which was Laura Story. More awesomeness!!! Next, God provided a conference planning team. And on and on it went all the way to the very end. The good work God called me to He completed for the praise of His glory!
4. Yet another lesson I learned was when God calls you to a work often you have to leave some things behind. When Jesus bid Peter to come to Him, Peter had to leave the safety, security and familiarity of the boat behind. Two lessons can be found here. One is that God will call us to leave behind our natural way of accomplishing tasks for Spirit-led and Spirit-filled ministry. It’s an exchange. My way for Your way! Jesus said in John 6:63, “The flesh profits nothing!” As we serve the Lord we recognize that its essential for us to pray without ceasing over every detail of ministry being intentional to seek God’s guidance, provision and anointing. “Prayer is truly the work!” A second lesson in leaving behind the boat comes from when Jesus first called Simon Peter in Matthew 4:18. Peter is again by the water and his boat for he had just returned from fishing when Jesus calls Peter and his brother Andrew saying, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’” We are told in verse 19 that, “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” Peter was willing to leave his profession of being a fisherman behind so that he could follow Jesus. Frequently, when God calls us to a specific work we too will have to leave some things behind. So often we have to say ‘no’ to some really good things in order to say ‘yes’ to God’s best. The question becomes, “God if you are calling me to a work in PWOC is there anything I need to leave behind in order to fully follow You?”
5. Lastly, a final lesson I learned had to do with discerning the call of God on your life. I learned that you know it’s God speaking when if you don’t respond you know you are being disobedient. I knew after all the confirmations I was receiving from the Holy Spirit speaking to me personally to women speaking specific affirmations of the call of God that if I left that conference site and did not submit my name for leadership I would’ve been disobedient to the Lord’s call on my life. I would’ve in essence been saying, ‘no Lord.’ No one else may have known what God was speaking to my heart, but I knew.
6. I can honestly say the two-year term I served as the Southeast Regional Vice President was one of the most joyous ministry experiences I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t want to have missed this adventure with God for anything! I’m so thankful I said ‘yes’ to God! It is definitely more comfortable in the boat but it is certainly more exciting on the water!
7. So, let me encourage you, if God is calling you to Get Out Of the Boat and serve Him within the ministry of PWOC, you can rest assured, He will meet you there!