The change felt good, but they were also afraid of who they might be becoming. Then they learned that they were not alone and to trust the train they were traveling on.
It’s always scary when you don’t know what’s on the other side. Who am I becoming? What will happen as my new self is revealed? Will I be rejected? Will I be hurt like the last time I stepped out?
For my friend John, this was new ground he was walking on.
Never been here before, and he felt fragile.
We had been walking, talking, and praying together for a few months, and he was beginning to see something change in him.
It wasn’t forced or fake. It was, in his words, ‘Natural.’
Like it was something that was there all along but now seemed to be making an appearance and revealing itself. Like a spring of water starting to bubbe up seemingly from nowhere.
But he was kind of scared about who he was becoming.
He knew he couldn’t stop this internal growth, it was good, and he didn’t want it to stop, but what about how others would react to the new man.
All the scenarios played out before him.
Where was this train taking him?
When you’ve learned some new things about yourself, processed some pain, asked some hard questions, and worked out some shakey solutions, then there is always an invite.
It’s an invitation to move forward. You can no longer stay where you are or even retreat back.
You feel like you’re on this train and it has already left the station of yesterday. It’s chugging along, and you’re wondering what’s coming next.
There may be quiet and excited anticipation, but more so, there may be a fear of here we go again.
In the past, you put yourself out there and showed your best creative self, but people, even your family, and friends shot you down. Instead of cheering you on, you got ambivalence and negativity. No one captured your vision.
Are you scared of who you’re becoming?
I remember my first visit to the USA, and I was having breakfast in a Los Angeles hotel.
I was reading an article in USA Today about prison inmates finishing their time in jail. I was particularly shocked by the stories of those who had spent months to years in solitary confinement.
When they were released out into society, they didn’t know how to cope.
For some, they built their own prison cells within their homes and apartments just to feel some sort of normality. Their ‘becoming’ was trapped.
The need to build something familiar, same dimensions, just for a sense of normality. Sometimes you need a friend to enter the prison cell and help you dangle your feet out of the door.
Are you scared of who you’re becoming? Perhaps you’re self-sabotaging the train you’re on.
You’re not alone.
The Bible is full of failures. There are no superheroes wearing bulletproof capes in the Bible.
There are only real humans living real human lives—people like you on a journey of becoming.
God invites them to leave the prison cells of their own making and move towards the Christ.
It’s always a progression of failures and faith-building. Up and down. Always.
Peter walked on the seabed.
It is a hard way to learn, but for many of us, we need many experiences of failure before we learn how to truly walk.
It’s interesting to watch the progression of how Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, left the prison cell of his self-confinement.
We all have one of those places where we feel safe. ‘This is me. I’m ok here. Leave me alone.’
But Jesus saw something different. He does with you too.
Sees something beyond the person we have made ourselves comfortable with. Jesus is always saying, ‘Come follow me, and I will make you into …’.
So Peter leaves his nets and follows a guru. What fun, excitement, adventure!
Tests are thrown at him. Questions arise. Mystery fogs his brain. Then an ultimate test.
Jesus invites Peter to walk on water. He fails. We would too.
Peter fails Jesus again and again.
He falls asleep when Jesus needs a friend. We do too.
He denies knowing him as a friend to save his own skin. We do too.
You would think that after all these failures, he would give up. I tried, I failed, I am a failure. So let’s go back to what is safe.
Instead, a quiet ‘becoming’ love has captured his life, and he knows it’s a train he’s on and can’t get off.
The next time we find the combination of Peter, a boat, some water, and Jesus, we see him leaving the boat again.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards [90 meters]. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. John 21: 4-9
This time he jumped into the water. The bible doesn’t say he swam. He could have walked on the seabed.
Peter could well have had the firmness of the ground under him to aid his progress.
The water, the fear of drowning, getting wet, thinking of what others would say, wasn’t going to stop him. This train journey had an invite he wasn’t going to miss.
There was something good and inviting and passionate about the man he saw that he threw himself into the water regardless of anything that might happen. Passionate people do stuff like this.
With each step on the seafloor or stroke of his hands into the water, he moved closer and closer.
And moving through water is hard work—all that resistance pushing back against you.
Peter was on a train and couldn’t get off.
The next train station of Peters becoming was a conversation of warmth, love, and reconciliation between himself and Jesus.
Is the universe friendly?
One of the biggest questions you will have to answer is one posed to us by Albert Einstein.
“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’
This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves. Albert Einstein.
Is your universe friendly?
If it’s not friendly, and if it’s not open to your presence, then why would you risk going into it, knowing it, exposing your heart to it?
Is your ‘Christ’ friendly?
Is your understanding of what God is like to be one of love and welcome? Like the invite to a meal by a fire on a beach?
Peter wouldn’t have jumped out of a boat to be with an ogre, a violent judge, a firm disciplinarian, or someone keeping their distance.
Here again, we see God fully in man, Jesus, and it was so overwhelmingly enticing that you have to jump out of the boat and into the water.
The ‘becoming’ needs those who can hold the vision
When you’re stepping out of the boat, you will be scared.
When you don’t know what’s around the next corner, you might be apprehensive.
When you know that not everyone will get what you’re on about, well, you might want to pull back.
It’s in these times that you need others around you that understand your shaky bones.
People who will say, ‘I’ve been there, and I know the fear.’
Champions who will speak truth to your fears. ‘You’re going to be ok.’
A vision keeper is not someone who will hold you accountable, keep you on target, make sure you tick the boxes. More so, they are someone who, when you fail (and you will), will help you dust yourself off and learn from the experience.
They’re not someone who walks in front shouting ‘keep up’ or someone who will keep poking you in the back with a long stick shouting ‘try harder.’
Instead, they are someone who will walk alongside and be themselves in their becoming to you in your becoming.
They are on a train of their own becoming and see you as a fellow passenger.
Quotes to consider
- Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
- Unless a bishop, teacher, or minister has on some level walked through suffering, failure, or humiliation, his or her words will tend to be fine but superficial, OK but harmless, heard by the ears but unable to touch the soul. Richard Rohr
- When we fail we are merely joining the great parade of humanity that has walked ahead of us and will follow after us. Richard Rohr
- Vision for others both bridges the distance between two souls and triggers the release of the power within us. Larry Crabb
- A vision we give to others of who and what they could become has power when it echoes what the Spirit has already spoken into their souls. Larry Crabb Connecting
- God consistently chooses to accomplish divine purposes through the agency of human imperfection. Eugene Peterson
- The Bible makes it clear that every time that there is a story of faith, it is completely original. God’s creative genius is endless. He never, fatigued and unable to maintain the rigors of creativity, resorts to mass-producing copies. Each life is a fresh canvas on which he uses lines and colors, shades and lights, textures and proportions that he has never used before. Eugene Peterson
Questions to consider
- Have you experienced that fear of who you’re becoming?
- What is it like to be on a train that you can’t get off and you don’t know what’s coming next? What would help in that situation?
- What is the passionate love of being with Christ causing you to become?