When my family and I visited Eilat, in Southern Israel, we also decided to go to the Coral Reef aquarium. I was perusing through the shark section when a passage of text printed on the wall caught my eye.
The information board read, “Sharks receive oxygen by the sea-water passing through their gills." Water only passes through while they are swimming forward. If the shark stays still in one place it would suffocate, drown and die.”
“This is so profound! I thought. I felt God speak to me in that moment through His amazing design of this creature; I just had to share the message with you.
When I read that information board at the aquarium, I realized that sharks and I have a lot more in common than I had originally thought. Sharks can’t breathe if they stop swimming. That’s their form of survival. In that moment, God spoke to me and said “Liat, in the same way as that shark - if you stop moving forward you simply won’t survive.” The same goes for each one of us.
Short Film - Eilat Israel
The enemy would love for us to believe he lie that if we step forward it will be too overwhelming, - that we aren’t equipped for the next step; and so he tries everything in his power to hold us back. The truth is the opposite of this lie. It is actually when we stop moving forward that we begin to drown. Becoming stagnant will cut us off from the vert air supply we need in order to breathe! Maybe not physically but definitely spiritually.
Did you know?
There was this old tribe in Asia who used to curse their enemy with the saying “May you stay in one place forever!”
"We may feel stuck because we’re afraid to step forward into the purpose God has for us."
It wasn’t Peter stepping out of the boat that got him in trouble. It was when he stopped walking and looked down at the swirling waters below that he began to sink.
If we keep our gaze fixed on Yeshua, then we can continue to step forward and make progress no matter what’s happening around us; but as soon as we shift our focus to the storms in our life we get frozen in fear and begin to go under. Even when this happens God is right there to catch us! Even when we fall he will pick us back up.
There was an experiment done by NASA which tested the effect of weightlessness on bees. They sent these bees up into outer space and while they floated around carefree at first, they soon began to weaken and die. None of the weightless bees survived more than a few days.
They were aimless...weightless...
Sometimes we tend to think that if we didn’t have the weight of any of our problems - if we didn’t have to work so hard, or struggle so much, or deal with any kind of hardship, then surely we would have the most awesome life. That’s a lie of the enemy he wants us to believe, but it’s not the truth. Yes, God wants us to enjoy our lives; but He does not want comfort to rule us or even become an idol in our lives. God has called many of His people into uncomfortable situation in accordance with His will. Stubbornly staying in our comfort zones - cowering in our little boats - will keep us from stepping forward into what God is asking us to do.
Without the struggle in our lives we simply would not survive. Without the battles to overcome we would never learn what it means to be 'more than a conqueror'. It is through faith and endurance under trials that we inherit God’s promises and enter into the fullness of life He wants for us.
“There’s nothing to fear except fear itself.”
What keeps us frozen in fear? Stuck in place?
Is it what others think of us? Fear of lack? Fear of failure? Maybe it’s even what we think about ourselves that holds us back. The Israelites saw themselves as grasshoppers; and it kept them from entering into the Promised Land.
God's Word tells us that we each have a specific, unique calling on our lives.
He has already put inside of us everything that we need to move forward into our destiny. We are more than conquerors. The battle that we're struggling against right now - that enemy we think will surely destroy us - can become the very thing that God uses to propel us into victory. David would never have become King of Israel if he hadn't battled the giant Goliath and overcome. Similarly, our struggles and suffering can serve to grow us as a person into who we were created to be.
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope," (Romans 5:3-4) It has been said that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.
Many times when we try to step out, that feeling of being afraid doesn’t go away. We have to just “do it afraid” and not allow our emotions to rule us; but instead, listen to the voice of God in our spirit that encourages us to overcome the obstacles facing us and move forward anyway.
God doesn’t call the qualified, he equips the called.
“Many a false step was made by standing still.”
As my family and I stood at the edge of the Red Sea enjoying the sun and surf, I was reminded of the story of the Israelites facing the same sea when they fled their Egyptian bondage. When I looked out and saw Egypt across the waters, I tried to imagine myself making the journey across.
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” (Exodus 14:10)
The children of Israel made the same mistake I’ve made many times. Fear... panic...Can you relate?
They looked at the enemy and panicked. They fixed their focus on their problems - on the thing threatening to destroy them - and they became frozen by fear.
“Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:11-12)
The only thing worse than staying stuck where we are, is going back to our past. There are going to be times in our lives when the enemy is behind us, there doesn’t seem to be a way forward and we are hemmed in on every said. In situations like this, the temptation is to run back to whatever we left behind. We can return to the very thing God set us free from in the first place if we don’t have the courage to trust in Him to make a way where there is no way to move forward.
Just like being delivered from a toxic, abusive or unhealthy relationship; and then wanting to return to that same situation rather than face the fear of freedom; we tend to only remember the good things in our past and therefore hold onto them. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They were treated unfairly, beaten and worst of all - their ability to serve God was taken away from them. They were forced to be surrounded by Egyptian culture and false gods; and yet, when facing their enemy all they talked about was the food and comforts of Egypt that they had left behind. God wanted to take Israel to a land flowing with milk and honey yet they couldn’t release the skewed, rose-colored memories they had of their past.
“When you look back you’ve lost your future.”
- Terri Savelle Foy
“And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.”
When we still our hearts before God and choose to trust him even when there doesn’t seem to be a way, He shows us his supernatural power and performs miracles in our lives.
I want to encourage you with the reminder that God gave me when I needed it. Don’t be afraid to step forward into your destiny. Whatever small steps God is leading you to do, start with those and the rest of the way will open up.
Sometimes it’s not until we step forward that the way opens up for us. Like Joshua crossing the Jordan River, sometimes we need to still our hearts and fight the temptation to go back into our past and let God open up the way. Sometimes we need to start small and just begin with what we have and what we can handle; and know that God will honor what we are faithful with. He will give us the greater opportunities we seek in His timing.
Whatever situation you’re in - just take a step forward! Don’t stay trapped in fear or get overwhelmed and sink back into what you’ve been set free from.
God has amazing plans for your life! Trust Him with your future and ask Him to clear the way for you and give you the courage you need to step into more of your calling today. I’ll be praying right alongside you :)
Remember… Just keep swimming!