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Where feet may fail


I’m sitting here in the quiet house while Caroline is at soccer practice and P is at the ranch.  I have so many thoughts going on in my head and I’m going to do my best to get them all out and not edit and second guess myself to death.

(Not that anyone would ever accuse me of editing myself, but sometimes the more serious the thoughts, the more I over explain.)

For the last several weeks everyone in my life has been asking me if I’m excited about my second book coming out.  And I am.  Let me say that before I say anything else.  Writing books is a dream that was so deep inside me for so long that I don’t know if I can even articulate what it means to see it come true.

But I think being on the verge of having your second book release must feel a little bit like having your second child.  You’re not as naive.  You know all the work that goes into it and that you’re going to have some sleepless nights worrying about things beyond your control.  You’re trying to navigate that line between hoping people will buy your book and not being an annoying self-promoter.  You know now that people can be mean and leave reviews that will leave a mark even though you try to pretend you’re totally cool with it even though they just called your baby an ugly troll.  Or maybe they just said you’re a bad writer.  Whatever.  Same difference.

And maybe that’s why I’ve just felt overwhelmed for the last month or so.  There were a few days in early January when I thought to myself, “Well, I have officially begun my descent into full-blown agoraphobia” because I didn’t really want to leave my house and I certainly didn’t want to think about speaking events I’d already committed to do or whether or not I’d commit to more.  Because here’s the secret that I’ll share, I feel so inadequate.  Off the top of my head I can think of at least 4,052 people who are better than me.

That’s what kept running through my mind.  I can’t do this.  I can’t balance my time between work and family.  I have no wisdom to share.  I’m not enough.  I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough and, doggone it, I don’t even know if people like me.  Stuart Smalley was a dadgum liar.

But then about a week ago I was driving to meet some friends for lunch and secretly maybe wishing I’d get the flu so I would have an excuse to continue to be a social recluse (I’m envisioning all of you now second-guessing your assumptions that we’d be friends in real life because now you’re overcome with the realization that I’m so weird and introverted) when the song Oceans came on.

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

As I listened, really listened, to the words I felt God say to me, “You feel like this is too much because you’re trying to figure out how to do it on your own power and none of this is about you.”  It took everything in me not to just pull the car over and cry because that’s exactly it.  I’m trying to be graceful and compassionate and kind and wise and discerning and loving but I’m putting myself in charge of the production of all those attributes.  And then my selfishness and pride and insecurity all rise to the top instead and I freak out because I know how lacking I am in basically every category and then I just want to sit on my couch and watch old episodes of Friday Night Lights because that feels safe.

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Because here’s the thing, it’s easier to sit on your couch than to risk failing.  It’s easier to sit on your couch than to be out in the world where you’re vulnerable and open to being hurt or disappointed.  But you know what happens while you sit on your couch playing Candy Crush and watching Tami Taylor?  Life.  Beautiful, gorgeous, fragile, heartbreaking, mind-blowing, life.  God has a script written for each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we’ve done or how much we feel completely ill-equipped for the adventure.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

We are all climbing our versions of Mount Everest and have no idea if our oxygen will last or if an avalanche will come, but God does.  And we can never underestimate the grace and the strength he will give us for whatever challenges we face.  He has called us to things higher and deeper than anything we could ever hope to achieve on our own.

It’s too much.  It’s too much for us to do in our strength because we will mess it up but he knows that and uses us anyway.  Because it’s never about creating or doing or being something that’s perfect.  It’s not about having all the right answers. It’s about being his.  It’s knowing that he who has called us is faithful.

Since early January I’ve had Colossians 1:17 written on the chalkboard in our kitchen. “He is before all things and in him all things hold together.”  It’s weird how that never once suggests that I’m the one who’s supposed to hold everything together.  He’s holding it all.  He is before it all.  He uses the sinners and the weak and the things that this world views as broken and hopeless.  But in him all those things come together, do things we never dreamed were possible, and make something beautiful where we once looked and saw nothing.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

Melanie Shankle

About the Author

Melanie Shankle is the author of TheBigMamaBlog.com. She is also a regular contributor to ThePioneerWoman.com, and she serves as the emcee for LifeWay’s annual DotMom conference. She lives in San Antonio with her husband, Perry, and their daughter, Caroline.