the day i started sinking
About six years ago, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity to write a book. Now some people fight and clamor and sell the first-born to get noticed by a publisher, but my opportunity came through a very generous person. He was asked to write a book and he asked me to co-author it with him.
This man was Chip Ingram. He was my boss at the time. I was employed at Walk Thru the Bible Ministries as the editor of their student magazine. Chip was asked to write a student version of one of his books. He offered me the opportunity and I said, “Yes!”
The book was all about sex and relationships. Not exactly my dream for my first book. I had other topics in mind. And I wouldn’t exactly say I handled those two areas very well in my single days. But I considered it just another example of how God takes the most unlikely people to do something for Him.
The task was overwhelming. I had to write more words than I had ever written in my life—and I was contractually obligated to do it by certain date. Not only that, I had never written a book before in my life. I had to figure out the pacing, the tone, the rhythm to see not only what I felt needed to be said, but also the way Chip needed to say what he said.
I know, wah, wah, wah. What a problem.
And through the process, I begged God for words. I leaned into Him for support, for guidance. I worked day and night. My family made sacrifices—time, that is. No animals were harmed in the writing of the book.
And when I write, well, I tend to write with more honesty than I do in real life. Meaning, I tell stories that I would probably not tell. I say things in writing than I would be reluctant to say in person. So I told stories that didn’t exactly put myself in a flattering light. Stories that I don’t really talk about with a lot of people. And when the book was finished, I felt really vulnerable. But I felt like I needed to say what I said to make the points I needed to make.
Once the book was done, the work wasn’t done. It just began. I was interviewed on radio and TV. In my job, I was the guy who interviewed people, but now the tables were turned. Now I was the one being asked the questions—any question. And sometimes it was really uncomfortable. But I leaned into God once again, and found myself functioning in realms well outside my comfort zone.
And there was some point in me that said, “Heh, I’m out here doing this, I’m out here on a limb, and for what?” I felt like I was carrying the weight of this message. I felt like I was doing all the work. And I was oblivious to what Chip was doing. It became all about me. So I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. I wasn’t going to put myself out there anymore. I wasn’t going to tell God, “Yeah, I’ll do whatever.” I had enough of whatever. I wanted safe.
And I started sinking. I took my eyes off God. I began to see what was going on around me, and I was getting wet.
I didn’t like getting wet.
I got back in the boat.
Forget this. Forget this walking on water stuff. I wanted solid ground.
So I took it. I took matters in my own hands.
I said no more of this spotlight stuff. I’m fading in the background. I’m going to hide behind the scenes.
Someone contacted me via e-mail and said they read the book. They loved it. And they wanted me to come speak at the retreat. I had a moment when I started to step in the water, and I sent her questions and we started planning the retreat. But then I looked around me and thought, “What are you doing? Who are you? You’re not the speaker guy. You’re the writer guy. You’re the guy who sits in a room and puts words together. They’re going to pay you? They’ll never get their money’s worth.” So I e-mailed back. I said that I wasn’t that guy, and I’m sorry, but I can’t come.
I was sinking.
Who was I to walk on water?
Who was I to step on to the waves?
What am I doing here?
This isn’t something someone likes me does.
Of course it wasn’t.
People don’t walk on water.
People who trust Him, who follow Him, do.
I didn’t trust Him anymore.
I wasn’t willing to follow Him.
I was tired of doing difficult things.
I wanted peace.
I wanted comfort.
I wanted what I wanted, not what God wanted.
So I hid. I hid in the boat. And I hid for about for a while. Years.
Until I realized that in hiding, I was becoming someone that I really didn’t like.
Someone who sought to remain out of sight.
Someone who was not expected or asked to do much.
And in the dark, in the hiding, I become focused on me.
What I want.
What I desire.
How I feel.
Me, me, me.
But as me focused as I became, the reality is that I was even less me.
I was dead.
And now I want to live.
So I’m standing up.
I’m taking a step on to the waves, here and there.
Because the place I felt most like me was when I walked on water.
Before I started sinking.
Before I turned my eyes away.
I don’t mind wet feet.
And even the scary isn’t as scary as the hiding.
This is where I am supposed to be.
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image courtesy of flickr.com/creative commons