Letting Go of the Dock (#520)

Wayne dips into the ol' email bag and pulls out some amazing stories of discovery and transformation, those willing to let go of the false security of religion and join God on an adventure that proves to be even more rewarding than it is risky. You'll hear about a ministry couple who discovered what they were building was a business not a community, how God is healing a young man from traumatic brain injury, and how people are finding community in the most unlikely places. What underlies all of these stories is the willingness to see things as they are and push off into the current of circumstantial uncertainty finding their peace and hope in the certainty of a Father's love. We too often look for peace in our circumstances and thus stick to safe waters. But when we can trust God to be our rock no matter what's happening around us we can go to places we never imagined we would.

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  1. One of my family members just learned a few days ago about a tumor in her head in a tremendously delicate place. Very rare. 10 in a million. Surgery for removal of the tumor is extremely complicated and difficult because of its location. Chances of permanent damage to her functioning make any choice, scary. No option looks good. We are feeling devastated. As I listened to the podcast this morning I felt that it was just for us. Thank you, Wayne, for the tenderness and strength in your voice as you shared Judy’s story. God was in your sharing today, no doubt about it.
    Uncertainty has most often had really bad press, at least in my life. I’m learning not to dread it and instead lean into God’s love and just take the next step. And sometimes that is simply taking another breath…consciously.

  2. I happened to think up this phrase this morning…not sure if it is an original, or if it has been said before, but it is that ‘certainty guarantees mediocrity.’ Sure, if it is possible you can line up all of your ducks in a row, you can protect yourself from a huge downside, but you also keep yourself from possibly experiencing a tremendous upside, taking all of the joy out of life. Yes, as Brad here has stated there is ‘truth in packaging’, that there is no guarantee that life will be smooth sailing, in the words of Helen Keller, ‘ Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ‘

    • Hi Ron, Your comment reminds me of my own ducks in a row illustration I had a few years ago.

      I had always hoped that by a certain age (55 – Freedom 55?!) that I would finally have my life in order, my ducks in a row as it were. At age 40, I started a difficult journey of personal healing dealing with some major issues, and around age 45 I realized that I would never have my ducks in a row, and that I should stop expecting that.

      As part of a conversation with Papa one day, I joked that when I got to heaven, He should put out a row of ducks for me that were quacking in unison since I was finally come to the place where my ducks were in a row. I meant it as a joke, but a picture suddenly came to mind of a flock of geese taking off from a pond in a wild raucous roar of sound. I felt Papa say to me, “Now that’s perfection. What you are asking for is boring and monotonous. My ways are full of life and energy. A wild noisy celebration of life.” It has stuck with me since.

      Funny thing was, the Freedom 55 idea came back to me at my 56th birthday when I did my review of the year. I had stopped attending church regularly early in my 55th year, and was experiencing a level of freedom in Christ that I had never felt before. During that year, I had a significant shift that could only be expressed as freedom 55. So even though I had given up on the idea of freedom 55, Papa knew my thoughts and hopes and in a way that only He can, he gave me a gift that year of greater freedom. I only realized it afterward. Still makes me smile almost 2 years later.

      • Great analogy John…thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a flock of geese quack in unison (lol)!

        Well I haven’t hit 55 yet, for me it would be freedom 45, and in a certain respect it will happen, as Jim has related concerning the internal man. A sense of peace that everything is OK, even though seemingly things aren’t.

        Well I was curious to see if anyone shared my sentiment about certainty, and sure enough, I found this blog post…great read….


  3. I have recently realized that I have placed my life in neutral over the last 5 years, hoping the momentum I gained from the previous years of living and growing in Christ would be enough to coast me to the end of my life. I was wanting and protecting an easy life free from any more stress; I did not want more stress and pain!

    I have been shoved away from the dock recently, in an excruciating way. As my external world as I know it, continues to be shaken from its foundations, my internal world is laying down new foundations. I still at times cling to wishing for what was, even though there is no true life there for myself, my wife and others. I am wandering through the desert and I am fiercely grabbing at Jesus to anchor my being beyond what I see. I am being broken from worshiping at the alter of my own reasoning, rationality and thinking. I am being broken from thinking I know best. I am being broken from believing that I am loving others, when in fact I was living in such fear and control…It is so miserably good! Wow, I was deceived!

    I used to pray the prayer, “Lord make me, shape me, and break me into the man of God you want me to be – no matter what it takes.” I stopped praying that prayer years ago, but I think God has not forgotten it. I do not know what will happen in the external (my marriage, my job, my kids, what people think of me, etc…); however, I am growing, slowly, in trusting that I am Okay, because God is Okay…well, at least for today I can say this!

  4. Hi Jim…(and the others)…although this is very different than being able to meet and talk in person…a quick note that I appreciate reading about others’ thoughts and learning. It continues to let me know I am not alone in this process. Many blessings, Sue

    • Thanks Sue, I’m glad sharing some of my journey is helpful to you.

      Sharing my journey feels more like a reflex than a conscious decision right now. The more I share what I have hidden (insecurities, shame, pride, control, fears, etc…), the freer I feel!!! It is like medicine, or like squeezing the gunk out of a wound – I guess it is similar to confession is good for the soul. So even as my external world is quaking, my internal spirit man is becoming healthier.

  5. Thanks Jim! I guess I’m “old fashioned” in that it’s a challenge for me to share deep details in a forum like this b/c I have no way of knowing who’s reading this…smile. I am a very relational, conversational person…right now I seem more comfortable w/ face to face. All that to say…your words resonated as there are things in my “outer” world that are “crumbling”…I like your word “quaking” and navigating this w/ Jesus (and Father and Holy Spirit) is very different than running to humans for support. He has graciously placed some ppl around me…however there’s a “lonliness” to this experience right now. Thanks for sharing…it’s helpful to read what other ppl are saying! Yes…internally the relp w/ Jesus is growing stronger. Blessings, Sue

  6. Can you share where you found that statistic about 92% of Sunday school attendees fall away?

    • Hi Stephen. That came from a Southern Baptist denomination study back in the late 1990s… I still don’t have the original source I got that from, but the statistic has been used a lot by other folks as well.

  7. Wayne, thank you for a great podcast. I love the stories that others have experienced and shared in this journey. The one story that really touched a note within me was the one where the person was looking for like minded souls to fellowship with but instead he finally realized the answer was before him all the time. He was connecting and fellow-shipping with every day souls that God brought into his life, sharing God’s love and nature. Encouraging podcast.

  8. As I listened to this I felt a nudge to share a bit of my own story about how God’s been saving me out of an “fatherless mindset”. I have shared this with Wayne, but I thought it might be interesting to others.

    Some people are luckier than others — when they hear of God as a Father they have a positive image in their heads. I am not as lucky. No positive image. But how do you get to know Him as the Father if you don’t know what it means?

    In my case God has come up with a trick — He made me a father, thrice. And my fatherhood seems to have become a window into His Fatherhood. After all, if we, who are evil, can give good gifts to our children, how much more can He who loves me…

    Here’s a quick story about how this divine “trick” is working. When my daughter, Vyeta, was about 5 we visited our good friends in Novosibirsk. The first night we were there she woke up screaming: “I am having a thunderstorm in my ear!” As we examined her ears we saw a couple of antennae sticking out. It’s an insect, we instantly guessed — the apartment we stayed at was on the 1st floor and it was a warm summer night.

    We called the emergency and, after waiting for 40 minutes, an apathetic-looking guy informed us that he had no tools at hand to remove the insect. He suggested taking Vyeta to an emergency room so I decided to go with her and Inna, my wife, stayed home with the other child. The thing in her ear seemed to have calmed down, and Vyeta felt ok. As we were riding the city streets in the emergency car I had her on my lap telling her stories, holding her tight, showing her the shiny lights that we were passing by. When we came to the emergency room, the doctor deftly pulled the little beast out of her ear. It was a Diplura.

    “The third one this night”, he said dropping the insect into one of his many plastic containers. “You may go”. We looked at each other, smiled and headed out. It was 4 a.m. but we decided to walk home. We strolled down the empty streets just touched with the first gleam of dawn, chatting about this and that and enjoying the morning.

    Some will say it’s better to forget experiences like that. But, you know, those few hours in the middle of the night when Vyeta was little and helpless and I was so close to her, well up in my memory as precious. We developed strong bonds that night which translated into a deeper trust in each other. I was whispering funny things into her unaffected ear, patting her hair, telling her stories about that poor bug that must have lost its way home and strayed into a strange hole.

    I held her hand as we walked into the doctor’s office. Later, when the trial was over, we walked along the sleepy streets as if nothing bad had happened, and this early morning time together seemed like a gift to us. I doubt that we will have another chance to walk the streets of Novosibirsk at 4 am in the middle of June.

    Of course, no one wants to suffer. But those several hours when I was so close to her, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Those were precious moments.

    Sometimes I wonder if it was just my experience, not hers. So one day I asked Vyeta about it — when she was much older. She didn’t remember that particular night but she remembered another, a couple of years ago when she was down with some form of allergy. She was itchy all over and couldn’t sleep. So I decided to stay up with her. We talked well into the night and then watched one of our favorite movies till she was so tired she could not keep her eyelids open. “But it was great!” she confessed.

    Where is God when I am having a Diplura in my ear? Now I know. He’s put me on His lap, holding me tight and is telling me stories about our happy tomorrow. He’s telling me that all will be well, holding my hand and explaining what we will be doing when the trouble is over. I am in His arms and He’s not leaving, period.

    Most likely He’s doing more than I know. Evil as I am, I can give good gifts to my children, how much more He… He must be treasuring those few hours of being very close to me as a gift which no happy times can afford. Well, the bug is still in our ear, the allergy is still giving us a hard time, but we know He will never leave, till the end. And looking back, we see that during those few hours of night, a strange but strong bond developed between us that no time can break.

    And when the morning comes, we will go strolling around the city. The empty streets will meet us with the rich leafy scent of summer. We will be chatting all along and when we get home we will jump right into bed and sleep till lunchtime. Looking back to those moments in the years to come we will see them as blessed moments of intimacy, the encounter with Love Itself.

  9. Hi Wayne, After being back on US soil now for almost 4 years after living in Costa Rica as “missionaries” for 4, this podcast resonated deep within me as to what I’ve processed over the last 10 yrs. or so. I’ve probably listened to this one 5 times now continually repeating to myself “Nothing God does is contingent on our doing something” I have the opportunity to share with fellow moms like myself, in the trenches of parenting little ones this coming week at my mom’s group. This will be my first time sharing with a “mostly” Sunday morning, church attending group, the journey of our family’s life from ministry, missionaries, moving back and not jumping back into ANY of that, to now just enjoying and living life with a handful around us, sharing life’s experiences and gleaning what we may. I was a bit nervous when first asked to share, but realized “letting go of the dock” has been my story all along. And if there is one momma who benefits from someone else who has taken the less comfortable, more difficult, unsure path, I want to be brave and do it. And to realize I have to keep “letting go” even unsure of the outcome is keeping me in that place of trust. I’m unsure of the outcome of sharing my story. I may get questions, peoples concerns, blank stares, but I’m reminded that it’s my story, my journey, my way of walking this life out. My inner person that wants to make everyone happy and not oppose a thing has been tested quite a bit these few years. Thanks for the encouragement and stories of others and yourself that reassure me that it’s the road less traveled that brings the greatest joy.

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