When I was 16, I worked as a counselor for a Christian day camp, at a leafy summer spot across the lake from my house. Although I liked singing every morning in the round theater that smelled like old milk and cedar, I kind of faked it because I didn’t want to become the churchy weirdo who misses out on every bit of teenage fun.
Because as far as I could tell, the Christians were selling cardigans, and I wanted a cape. It looked to me like people would take a deep breath, step to the front of the line, pull on their scratchy, over-tight synthetic sweater, and promptly start dying.
But the world is huge and I was hungry. I didn’t want to get married. I wanted to date inappropriate men and lose my shoes in a bar in Cancun. I wanted a big job where people knew my name, and to drive across country listening to EmmyLou Harris. I wanted red deserts and empty coastlines, art and chaos, perfect liberty and rapture.
And I thought Jesus wouldn’t let me have that, so I played along, picking and choosing. Maybe you’re doing the same.
But nobody ever told me, perhaps because they didn’t know either, that Jesus is all about capes, and he wasn’t the only one who walked on water. Peter did it too because Jesus told him to.
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. Matthew 14:29
I want to walk on water and I want you to come too. Forget the bumper stickers and election season rhetoric. If I lose 100 lbs you’re going to ask me how I did it. Well, I lost 100 lbs of shame and rejection. Fear doesn’t sit on my chest anymore. I no longer burn endless heaps of mental garbage and have imaginary arguments with people before meetings.
Yes, I absolutely had to quit losing my shoes in bars and running around with bad men, but what I got in return so thoroughly eclipsed those amusements, I can’t believe I ever chose them over Jesus. And if the proof’s in the pudding, here are a couple of things happening around here lately:
I quit my lucrative job in corporate insurance sales and became the writer I’ve wanted to be since I was 12. Though I have a lot less money now, I seem to always have what I need, so I give some of it away, which makes me happier than anything else I do. Surprise!
Last month, I spoke from the back of my horse, to an arena full of East Texas cowboys. I talked about how proud we are of the leaky cisterns we build, and how Jesus just wants to smash them and start over with us, building something that can actually hold water.
I leave Tuesday for West Africa, a place I never imagined going. Not only does my new job at Mercy Ships send me around the world, but it gives me unfettered access to people who are groping their way toward the light too. They are also known as friends.
And I’ve finally met the Christians I didn’t know when I was 16 – people like author Bob Goff who wears his cape like a freak flag and swoops into people’s lives and makes them better.
The Bible says God is no respecter of persons, so if he’ll do it for me, he’ll do it for you. It’s a process but if it’s one you’ve considered, here’s me cheering you on.