By Katie Mumper
I stand on the beach, looking out toward the water, just at the edge of waves meeting sand. It’s quiet. No one else is here. The only sound is the steady cadence of waves as they gently fall against the shore. The beach is flat and wide here. I’m used to East Coast beaches, where houses sit just a few hundred feet from the water. It’s low tide, so I have to walk far from the tufts of sea grass to find where the waves will lap at my feet. The sand and water are cold between my toes.
The strangest thing, though, is the fog. It’s thick and full out on the water. If I look to the right or left, I can see farther down the beach than I can see looking straight ahead at the water. In fact, I can barely see the water. The sound of the waves and the cold water on my feet are the only indication it’s actually there. As I stand still, silent, listening, the words of a song rise out of my heart: “You call me out upon the waters / the great unknown where feet may fail.” It’s a popular worship song (“Oceans” by Hillsong United).
The lyrics talk about following God into the unknown. Invoking the story of Peter getting out of the boat and walking on the water toward Jesus, the songwriters remind us that “walking on water” isn’t easy to do.
We have to “keep our eyes above the waves” and focused on him.
But what if it’s foggy when you hear that call?
What if you’re asked to step out onto water that’s covered in fog, like it was for me that day on the beach? You can’t see more than a few feet in front of you. You can barely see the water under your feet. When Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water, there was a strong wind and heavy waves. Add to that the darkness of night, which made it nearly impossible for him to even recognize Jesus.
Peter faltered when he became afraid, but at least he took the first step. Would you do it under conditions like that, even in the daytime? Would you heed the call, leave the beach, and step out? Or would you stay safe on the shore? There, any fog is thinner; you can see farther. There, the chances of drowning are slim.
I know my response.
Let me just stay here until the sun comes out, Jesus. I’ll follow you onto the water when the fog burns away and I can see where we’re going. Don’t make me go right now.
I’m missing the point, though. Jesus calls me into strong winds and onto heavy waves in the midst of dense fog because he’s asking me to trust him. Waiting for the sun to shine and burn away the fog robs me of an opportunity to know my trust in him is not misplaced. It’s not about reaching some destination. It’s about making the journey with him, learning more about his character and his trustworthiness. It’s about taking the first step and realizing he is right there with hands outstretched, ready to take mine and lead me wherever we’re going. Keeping my eyes above the waves means looking into his eyes and trusting there will be water under my feet with each step.
As we go, the fog might begin to lift, showing just how far we’ve come from shore and revealing where we’re headed. I might begin to see the exact path our journey is taking.
Or the fog might stay. I might continue to journey blindly with nothing but Jesus’ hand to assure me I’m heading in the right direction. Will I trust him to steer me right? Will I be okay with having no idea how far we’ve come or how far we have yet to go?
I don’t know the answers to those questions. But I do know I’ll never learn those answers standing on the shore.
Katie Mumper is a daughter, sister, friend, writer, and singer. She loves Jesus, music, books, and great TV shows. Because she’s far from perfect, she is grateful for God’s grace in her life. She writes with the hope that others might be encouraged to let God make them new as well. You can read more of her work at beautyrestored.me.
Photograph © Katie Mumper, used with permission