What do you do when you’re standing safely on the shores of the vast, unending, ocean, and you hear the voice of Jesus invite you to step out onto the waters and walk towards Him? And what do you think when you see stormy waves crashing wildly in the distance of the waters?
In other words, what do you do when you feel Jesus asking you step into a position that is out of your comfort zone and seems impossible? Usually there are two voices that speak up in your mind: one telling you that you can’t walk on the waters, that you’ll drown, and that you’ll be overwhelmed and consumed by the waves, and then there’s the second voice telling you that you can do it, you’re safe, and you can do the impossible.
This is what I experienced when God asked me to do a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM. A backpacking DTS at that, which involves trekking all over Australia pushing the limits of your physical abilities. So how does a person who has severe scoliosis, that is plagued with back pain every single day, who can’t even stand or walk more than an hour without aching, travel the world to new places and do a DTS that is physically demanding even for the most healthy and normal person? For me it seemed impossible. There was no way that I could physically be able to handle it. My doctor told me he had never seen a worse case of scoliosis, and said that for the rest of my life, I would be physically handicapped in what I could do, and at some point be required to have major back surgery. And yet, I had this desire to go beyond my limitations and not be bound by mere words from a doctor.
The doubts crept in however, telling me that I couldn’t do it, that I wouldn’t be able to handle the physical expectations. What if I couldn’t participate in all of the activities, or be required to stay back while everyone else enjoyed amazing experiences? What if I pinched a nerve that had happened numerous times before that put me in bed for days being paralyzed by the pain? And yet, this quiet confidence and eagerness was brimming in my soul; this insatiable desire to take a leap of faith and just go. To not hold back. I was standing on the shores of the incredibly vast ocean, and I could feel this gentle whisper from Jesus asking me to trust Him and just take the first step out onto the waters. So I took the first step and filled out the application for the Pathfinders DTS, soon after to be accepted. And the next step being purchasing the plane ticket to Brisbane, Australia. Each step I took seemed crazier and crazier, and yet, at the same time seemed to give me more and more confidence in stepping out into the impossible.
What laid ahead of me was uncertainty, impossibility, and challenge. My previous life experience was telling me that I’m stupid for walking further and further away from the safety and comfortability of the shores, but I just knew that I couldn’t live in the boundaries of the familiar any more. My heart wished for more, and Jesus apparently knew that, so He called me out into the uncertainty of the waters. But I also knew that Jesus wouldn’t call me to a place where He isn’t. He reassured me throughout this process that He would be with me while on the waters. He wouldn’t abandon me.
And now 6 months later, I stand in awe of everything that I have accomplished along this DTS journey. I have walked beyond every limitation and expectation I ever had. The impossible incredibly became possible. I have backpacked across the largest sand island in the world, trekked 40 kilometers in the insane himalayan mountains while witnessing with my own eyes 4 of the 5 highest mountains in the world, and travelled to more places all over Australia and India than I ever thought I could. I have met the most amazing and diverse friends that span all over the globe. I have shared the love of Christ to drug-addicted backpackers in Australia, given food to hungry beggars on the streets of India, and have led worship in front of large groups of people (whereas before I was extremely insecure about my voice and had only played in front of a maximum of like 6 people). Every limitation and boundary that my mind could come up with were unequivocally shattered.
Were there hard times? Yes. Was I challenged? Without a doubt. Was I uncomfortable at times? Absolutely. But did I grow and do the impossible? Absolutely! I am no longer same person that I was just 6 months ago. And I think to myself, what if I hadn’t taken the leap of faith and stepped out onto the waters? I know for one thing, I wouldn’t be the confident, risk-taking, joyous, passionate, and free person that I am today. I would still be the insecure, timid, and limited person that I was before I began this journey.
I realized that all my fears, doubts, and insecurities were put there either by myself or the world, and not by God. So God, in His gentle and reassuring nature, showed me how to replace those things that held me back with faith, strength, hope, and courage. And as I walked deeper and deeper onto the waters, into the uncomfortable unknown, more confidence and clarity came to my true abilities through Christ. Where my strength ended, did the strength and provision of Christ begin. Jesus showed me that in order for Him to provide in powerful ways in my life, I had to be in positions to need Christ to move in powerful ways. I had to give Him the opportunity to show up. I stepped onto the plane to Brisbane with full knowledge of my physical condition, but I also stepped onto the plane knowing that Christ would need to help me, otherwise I would sink into the waters and drown. And He did more than just give me physical strength to complete a notably challenging DTS. Jesus completely transformed my way of thinking and my entire identity. He truly made the unattainable become attainable.
God showed me that where impossibilities lie, there stands the God of impossibilities. I mean, what is helping a little scoliosis compared to creating the overwhelming expanse of the entire universe? What is stopping the ache of back pain compared to creating the spectacular Himalayan Mountains?
I am a living testimony that if you are willing to step out onto the waters, God is willing to be there and help you to go beyond what the world deems as possible
-Justin McClure Pathfinders DTS Student