Step Out

I’ve had a dream…

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There is a storm raging around me while I am tossed about in a wooden sailboat. I am concerned because of the wind and waves pelting the small vessel, but I’m not afraid.

I hear a voice in the wind. It’s a voice I know. Even though I can’t tell the origin of the voice, I know it is my favorite voice to hear. I crane my neck into the wind, straining to hear every syllable. I forget the storm while listening to the foreign melodic phrases reaching my ear.

The hairs on my arms stand on end and I notice my entire body is electrified, charged as if lightning swirls within the sound of the voice. And then I understand. Suddenly, I know what the voice is saying. “Step out. Step out. I’m here. Step out.”

Now the terror tries to claw at my throat. Step out? Step out of the safety of the boat? Surely I heard wrong. The voice wouldn’t tell me to do that… would it? I calm my racing thoughts and listen, hoping there is a different message on the wind. I hear nothing. Did I imagine it? Was it real? Maybe I am dehydrated… or delirious. The intensity of the storm must be getting to me. Have I lost my mind?

And then I hear the voice anew. A whisper amid the howling wind… “Step out.” This time I don’t think. I don’t pause to consider the ramifications of the action I am about to take… one leg over the side of the boat, the other leg following. The rough wood digs into my hands and splinters cause blooms of pain in my palms.

My feet touch the churning water beneath. Will I sink? I can swim but the voice said “Step” not dive. I don’t think I could swim for long in the waves around me. I take one more gulp of air into my lungs and let go of my wooden safety net.

Startled, I look down. I’m not sinking and my feet feel as though they are on something solid. Is it glass? Is it stone? The waves are still lashing at my legs but my feet are steady on an invisible path. Extending my right leg, I touch my toes down, daring to hope the pathway is more than the square beneath me.

I hear the voice once more, gently persistent, “Step out. I’m here.” I hear the screaming within my head, a shrill desperation to flee to safety, to preserve myself. As I turn to look back at the boat, my feet start to sink as if in quicksand. I snap my eyes forward and listen for the voice of peace. My legs pull free of the sinking sand and find purchase again.

There is no turning back now. One step. Another. And another. The boat must be a mile away now. Another step. One more. The angry waves still crash around me and threaten to overwhelm me, but the path is always there. If I hold my head just right, the way looks almost crimson extending out from my toes. Another step. The melodious voice meets my longing ears again… “I’m here.” I take another step.

I look down and this time I see two feet standing next to mine. A scarred hand is underneath my arm, ready to catch and steady me. I look up, in awe of the One beside me. His eyes are kind. His hair is unruffled by the wind… it cannot touch Him. I notice the wind and waves aren’t touching me anymore either. The sea beneath our feet transforms into a smooth sheet of glass, solidifying as a ripple of power radiates out from Him.

He turns to look at me and the only thing holding me up is His hand beneath my arm. One word proceeds from His mouth. “Prophesy.” I start to say I don’t know how, but the words die on my lips. Again comes the melody… “Prophesy.” I am undone. I open my mouth. I hear the voice… His voice… His breath… from my lips. His melody fills my lungs and brilliant light bursts forth.

I wake up.

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If you’ve struggled to step out of the boat, the only safety you have known, you are not alone. His voice is on the wind. Listen for Him.

It only takes a step. One step of faith. And then another. He will meet you among the waves. He will set you upon solid ground and lift you up with His right hand.

Prophesy to your circumstances. Do not let the waves you see stifle your voice. Speak His beautiful name to silence the wind… “Jesus.” My friend, His breath is what gives you life. His voice brings dry, brittle bones back to life. Speak His truth to what you see. His truth is what will burst forth.

Until the Light Breaks Through

What do you do when the darkness threatens to swallow you whole? You discover the most important weapon in your arsenal.

I had always tried to be the good girl. The one who obeyed. The one who held things together. The one who kept her promises even if they hurt her. The one who was everything to everyone. The one who wouldn’t take failure as an option and would push herself past exhaustion. The one who always had a plan and was prepared for every circumstance. I was the one who had her life together.

It was an illusion.

Control is always an illusion. I was a control freak because that was how I learned to survive. I had to keep myself together, or at least appear to from the outside. My world would spiral into oblivion if I didn’t. I couldn’t let those around me see the cracks.

There were so many cracks. Cracks in my emotions. Cracks because of trauma. Cracks in my family. Cracks in the very fabric of my identity. If anyone had held me up to the light, surely they would see the web of fractures. They would see the myriad of flaws in the vase that held my life.

But no one did. The light around me must have been too dim. That’s better than thinking no one truly saw me. It’s better than thinking no one really cared.

So I continued surviving. Never thriving. Just getting by without falling apart. A continual cycle of painting over the cracks but never repairing them. A touch up here. A little smudge there. No one could tell…

until I broke.

My vase hit the floor and all the pieces shattered. From that moment, there was no going back. In that moment, I had to learn how to fight through the pain and darkness.

I only had one weapon.

I cried out to God. I turned worship music on at a volume that muzzled the noise in my head. Surely the neighbors could hear the cacophony. Surely they could hear my mind splintering. I wasn’t the only one who could hear it, right? That wail from the pit of my soul ricocheted off the walls of my house as violently as it echoed within my heart. Surely someone else could hear my pain!

Eventually the wail gave way to a stifled song as I groped to join the music of praise filling my home. I grasped for every lyrical shred of hope, as a drowning man clings to a raft. I stretched to recall the ancient promises I had heard…

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1-2 (ESV)

I lifted my eyes up to heaven. I reached out… His Presence reached back and grabbed my hand. He didn’t let go. He held me up to His light so my healing could begin.

It’s funny how, in the darkest moments, the faintest light always seems so much brighter. The depths of the darkness can’t quench the light. Darkness doesn’t make the light fade. The darkness only magnifies the very thing it tries to suppress.

In that moment, I learned the power of praise. Praise is a lifeline back to the shores of sanity. Praise is the beam of light that helps guide the weary traveler through the mountains and valleys. Praise breathes life back into the dry bones and raises the dying from despair.

Praise is the light that will always pierce through the deepest darkness. Praise revealed every one of my insecurities and faults, but not in a way that brought shame or condemnation. No, it brought life more abundantly than I could imagine. Praising my Creator, Savior, and Friend in the midst of my mess illuminated the dark that enveloped me. It broke through the barriers and tore down the prison walls. Praise was the light that revealed every crack in my vase, but, instead of throwing me out, God held me close and called me beautiful. He took each piece and, with the care only the Craftsman could, sealed every fault line with the light of His love.

So what will I do until the light breaks through the darkness? I will choose to praise.