Cartwheels on the Beach

We hear a lot these days about changing the world and living our dreams. “Don’t settle,” we’re told. “Follow your heart. God has big plans for your life.”

I embrace that with my whole heart. In fact, as I write this, I am three weeks into a move halfway across the country to plant a church, because my wife and I believe that is where God wants us to be. We have left behind family, a comfortable job I had been in for 10 years in an established church and 20 years worth of friends to follow what God has given us. But I have been rethinking the whole dream big concept lately.

I have a five-year old daughter who is the delight of everyone she meets. She is totally unaware of the light that shines from her, which makes it all the more special. She lives in her own little princess world that consists of singing and dancing and maybe a little bit of scooter riding thrown in on the side. She loves life. Almost everything is fun for her.

Everything, except being in the water. She doesn’t care for it. She will go into a swimming pool and get in up to her neck and ask me if I am impressed—I’m not. I want her to throw herself into it and enjoy the thrill of being submerged in a totally new environment, if only for a moment. Her brothers, one older and one younger, are maniacs. They love the water. The little one has to be restrained from going too deep and the big one is a fish. Those are my boys!

Last summer we went to the beach on a beautiful, sunny day with lots of small waves lapping at the shore, and I tried to get my daughter to play in the surf with me. She would have none of it. I picked her up and carried her in until the water was up to my waist. She screamed and trembled so violently that I had to take her back up to the beach before someone reported me for child abuse. I set her on the beach and walked back into the water, disappointed that she didn’t want to experience the power and unpredictability of the ocean.

I looked back at her on the sand a few minutes later to see her doing cartwheels on the beach. It struck me. That is where she needs to be. She can’t do cartwheels in the water in the middle of all those waves. Her joy is found right where she is, on the beach.

God does have plans for us, to give us a future and a hope, but the plans don’t look the same for all of us. Right before He left, Jesus told Peter not to worry about what happened to John. He said to Peter, “You must follow Me” (John 21:22, TNIV). That is His command to us today. Don’t worry about what other people’s callings are, and don’t try to be someone else. You follow Me.

It’s OK to remain where you are, if that is what God has for you. Don’t force something or be disappointed if you don’t do the “big stuff.” It’s not laziness or complacency, but openness to what God might do with you in your current situation. Some of us will be sent off into the unknown ocean to follow God to another location. Some of us, though, need to stay right where we are, trust God, and learn to do cartwheels on the beach.

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