Verb. get one’s feet wet. To begin gaining experience; to tentatively try something new.
I took my little girl to her grandma’s house today. It was raining. As I scooped her out of the carseat and deposited her onto the ground, I said, “Stay on the gravel. Stay on the walkway. Don’t get your feet wet!”
And as those words exited my mouth, I sensed God speaking to me. It was about how I talk to my daughter and what she hears. Because the message that goes forth is one of caution. It says stop! Stay on the beaten path. And for God’s sake, stay out of the water.
First, Annabelle would get her feet dirty. Muddy. And I want to avoid the mess. But also, if she keeps her feet dry, there’s less chance of sickness. And deep down, I feel the beaten path is the safe way to go. Guided paths are tested and tried. Less chance of tripping up.
So I tell her to stay on the sidewalk. To stay out of the wet grass. All to keep her feet dry. But on this 31st day of December, the last day of the year, I wonder if I’m sending her the wrong message.
Today, Annabelle knew I was talking about the sidewalk. But you know, this message of caution is one that escapes my lips all too often. It always has…
When my son, Levi, was small and we walked down the driveway after school, I’d cry out, “Don’t run!” See, there’s a steep part and I worried about his falling and skinning knees or busting his mouth. And when we walked through our wooded path, I’d say, “Slow down.” That’s because Levi usually carried a stick and I didn’t want him to fall and poke his eyes out. And now there’s Annabelle.
Go slow, I say. Hold the rail. Don’t fall. And most recently, stay off the grass! So as to keep her feet dry.
But I realize this message can run deep. To the soul, even. Perhaps even stunt her growth and keep her bound. In a box, so to say. All in the name of safety. And caution. And if I’m not careful with my words, I may stop her altogether. Fear imbedded to the core by words uttered every single day…
Stop. Slow down. Don’t…
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. Matthew 14:27-31
I had to get my feet wet several years back. I felt as if God called me by name for a specific task. Something new. And though there was fear, I stepped out of the box (my boat) and walked on water for just a bit. And it felt good. There’s that phrase about walking on air. I think they have it wrong. Surely that heady feeling is more like walking on water.
Like Jesus did.
And like Peter. Like the disciple, though, I began to sink. I’d say within a year of stepping out of that boat, I was up to my ears in water. Drowning in a sea of old feelings that threatened to take me under completely.
But Jesus extended His hand. He pulled me to safety and an extended period of rest. Thus, I’ve been sitting on the banks for some time now. And a thorough drying off has taken place.
Alas, I sense His call anew. A stirring of my soul. Time to get up from the sidelines and move out into the water once more. But a voice plays in my ear. It’s one of caution and it sounds like my own.
It says, “Stop! Stay on the walkway. And for God’s sake, don’t get your feet wet!”
Because when you get wet by putting yourself out there, there’s a chance of danger. There’s the chance of failing. Or getting hurt. And so the bank seems safer. And yet, He calls me out anyway…
It’s almost 2019. Another year down. And this past year has been pretty safe. For I’ve not veered off the path and I’ve stayed close to home. I’ve not ventured too far beyond my borders nor attempted anything out of the norm.
It’s been comfortable, I’d say.
But you know, comfortable is not a good place to be. Because comfort leads to complacency. And as we all know, a body at rest stays at rest. And when one sits too long, the waters become stagnant.
And though there are times God calls one to stillness, there are also times God calls one to action. And movement. To His living waters that run so deep. This is where He calls me today…
In the year that’s coming, God calls me out of the box that’s been my comfort zone. He wants me to step out of my boat of safety. More, He tells me to jump in with both feet. Because there, within His living water, I’ll find my destiny. The catch?
It’s not the safest way to go. It’s not the well-beaten path. It’s the one less traveled and one I’m not accustomed to. And where it will lead me, I don’t really know…
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7
God’s telling me something. It has to do with how I speak to my little girl. It’s the words I fling forth in hope of protecting her. But deep down, I wonder if they’ll do more harm than good.
Because when will they stop? When does my message of slow down and be careful end? And when will they sink into the core of her being? Will they hinder her progress toward the One who walks on water? When He calls her out, will I let her go? Or will I cry, “Stop!”
A little caution is good. It really is. But I’m hearing God today. And He’s telling me to let go. To stop trying to control everything. To stop trying to avoid all the hurts in life. For my kids and for myself…
And if I hear Him correctly, He’s saying a little water on the feet is not such a bad thing. Not for Annabelle.
And most assuredly, not for me.
“Stop your fighting—and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10
Oh, I’m quick to caution my little one. I just want her to stay well. Healthy. Happy. Whole. I want the best for her. So, I tell her to not get her feet wet. You know, the mud and the mess. But also, wet feet can lead to sickness. And sickness, well, it can lead to more. And me telling my little one to stay dry is really an attempt to control circumstances.
And here we are on the cusp of 2019. And I hear God urging me to do the opposite of what I urge her to do. Thus, I will do my best to do the same…
I’ll try to encourage Annabelle just as my heavenly Father does me. And my hope for the New Year is that the words He whispers in my ear will make it to my lips. That I’ll say, “Go into the grass, my child, and feel the blades. Go off the beaten path and try new roads. Get out of the boat. Jump into the water and experience all life has to offer…”
And more than anything, I hope I tell her, “Get your feet wet!”
Because in truth, if your feet ain’t wet, then you’re not really living. Not fully.