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We have moorings to cast off

I wrote this last night and then woke up this morning and realized I don’t really understand the issue like I should. I diagnose the problem, but need you to help me with the solution. The problem:   Most of us crave comfort and security – moorings that lock us into a safe harbor.  …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
I wrote this last night and then woke up this morning and realized I don’t really understand the issue like I should. I diagnose the problem, but need you to help me with the solution. The problem:
Most of us crave comfort and security – moorings that lock us into a safe harbor.  I estimate 90% of people stay moored to what they’ve already experienced and can control and they stay that way for most of their lives. We want to calculate the odds, manage risks and hedge our bets.

During one of our wars, while men were bravely defending their country, there arose a serious debate within the Church: How long should the hem of our robes be for proper worship?

These priests were so out of touch in the comfort of their Ivory Towers that they were more concerned about how many inches their hem should be than they were about the issues that the war was raising. It reminds me of the poem:
Some men die by bullets,
Some men die in flames,
But most men die inch by inch,
Playing silly games.
The challenging example Jesus gave us was of a man who was perpetually leaving, who didn’t have so much as a pillow, who was sold out to a life of meeting the needs of others, who begged God for a way out of his path of pain and was offered none. His injunction to his disciples was, “When they persecute you in one place, flee to another.” (Matt. 10:25)
Once, while ministering in the badlands of inner city Philadelphia, we met Vinnie, a 20 year-old suburban kid who got hooked on heroin and had been living on the streets for a year.  Though he was well groomed, his clothes were full of holes.  When I asked where he sleeps, he pointed at the sidewalk and said, “I’ve gotta get into detox.” 

After returning home, one of my daughters said, “I am so sick of being a slave to my insecurity.  Just always worrying about what I need and how I can make my life better.  I’m ready to go to the next level with Jesus and live each day as my last.  I am constantly reminded that my life is not my own.”

She was taking steps to throw off some of the moorings of safe harbor living. And later she did just that, living in the slums of Nairobi and Matamoros for a year.

I’m not one to take a lot of physical risks, but God made you and me to be spiritual mountain climbers and bungee jumpers, to metaphorically take our deep keeled boats onto the high seas. I’ve had to embrace growth and challenge as a norm.

Living in the safety of a shallow harbor is overrated. To let go of your moorings requires that you explore risky possibilities.  It seems reckless in that it embraces risk over security.  But when talking about taking a risk, the biggest risk is to not trust God in the ways that he wants to be trusted.

So here’s what I’m still trying to understand: What moorings tie us down?  Over on my FB page, Carol says this: “I think people long for the deep, for the thrill
of it, the living on the edge of it all. They are just not sure they
can do it because they are not certain it’s okay and that God really
wants them that much.”
Maybe it’s your fears or your school debts or your insecurity.  What are they for you? Let’s determine to cast off the ropes and launch out to discover what God has planned for us.

Comments (11)

  • Now I’m really looking forward to my chat, as for some reason many of your recent posts deal with the issues of inner self I have been struggling with as I think about the new future. Fear never comes from God, but from self, from our sinful natures. The fear of upsetting others with our choices, or the fear of falling flat on our face, and will we, or won’t we be able to get up again. If I at 36, or others even older than I fear the unknown, then the current youth, who have never been allowed to fail, are even more fearful of it. We learn from our failures far more than our successes. This is why Christ allowed the disciples to fail again, and again, and again. Our failures also make us more resolute when we seek to embark upon the unknown.

    I’m a long distance backpacker. People don’t understand why I would want to go out, sleep on the ground, hike in the rain, the mud, the bugs, and only shower every few days. I say it’s for the beauty of a mountain-top sunset, to see a bear in a tree, to share fellowship with a stranger around a campfire, or to witness more stars in the sky than anyone in a city will ever see. Sometimes we have to go into the unknown, to challenge, in order to see the true beauty of the world, and the real grace in God’s plan

  • People want to jump into the deep end, to just let go of control and watch God show up in mindblowing ways. We want that spiritual experience. But generations of mortal living in a wild world have taught us to only go where we can see, where we can risk assess the situation. On the surface, trusting in someone you can’t see is dangerous and scary, except God is faithful and trusthworthy. Many people know this mentally, but, kinda like what Carol mentioned, they aren’t sure that God wants them that much or wants them to jump. They want to make sure that He will catch them when they leap, so they pray and wait and pray and wait and pray beforehand. A lot of toe-dipping, I guess, and this is where people stall. This fear is natural, I think, but can be overcome if people are taught AND pushed to experience God’s true nature.

  • I think about the things in my family’s life that keep us moored. I have been casting off plenty of these ropes the past couple of years through the gift of difficult situations. But my husband, who is not a believer is firmly moored by responsibility, hard work, and providing for his family. He takes care of others and I know is tied to duty and responsibility; he believes he is doing what he is supposed to do and sees other options as irresponsibility. He is not only moored, he is chained. I love him but yearn for freedom for him and consequently our family. The tether has translated almost to an unspoken sense that no matter how hard one tries, it is never good enough.

  • How do we explain the personality gap between those who tend toward security and those who tend toward adventure?

    I am an adventurer. Dave Greenstein (commented above) is too. He wrote that people don’t understand why he would brave the elements for (in their minds) piddly rewards. People ask me the same question. I have to wonder if us adventurer types are just wired different…?

    Kathy Pride is ready to cast off moorings, but her husband is not. As I look around I see most people are not. I ask myself, “Is it because of the fear of the unknown?” or is it (like Kathy’s husband) out of a sense of obligation to current commitments? Or is it that they TRULY are quite happy where they are?

    Emy Imoh wrote, “People want to jump into the deep end.” I ask, “Do they?” I look around at the walking zombies I know and don’t sense much motivation to jump.

    Maybe it’s like Emy concluded, “This fear … can be overcome if people are taught AND pushed to experience God’s true nature.”

    That’s why I enjoy reading blogs such this as one: because it PUSHES me to take that next step.

  • Thanks for the feedback so far. Nick, you provoked my thinking. Clearly taking big steps of faith is going to be easier for some than others. Whether because of temperament or just good parenting, some folks are prone to trust God more.

    But others have advantages in other directions. For example, the ENFP personality type is predisposed to love others well. I have to really work at giving my time and energy away to others, but for a lot of my ENFP friends, it comes naturally.

    That said, we all need to trust God and see that he is good and will back us up as we take big risks for him, just like we need to love others and make that a focus in our lives.

    Jesus threw all 12 of his disciples in the deep end in Luke 9 and 10 without regard for background. For Peter that was probably fun while others were shaking in their boots.

  • Its more of a muddled river for me,trusting Jesus.At times Ive taken huge risks following, at others Ive cleaved to the safety of routine.Thiers an adventurer in all of us we just fail to see it in each other sometimes. Like we fail to see Christ in each other.I once hiked in the swamps of Florida for 3 days,but let a woman in my heart thats CRAZY!!! So once again its about personl relationship.


  • Nick made a good point. Some people (some are zombies, unfortunately), aren’t adventurous. They are perfectly happy right where they are. I think, however, that’s because alot of people are just happy meeting the status quo. Meeting the status quo is easier since we have alot of power over that. Take care of the basic needs and get a little extra for fun. Of those people, there is the desire to be adventurous, but it may go as far as backpacking across a country, or whatever (for example). From what I’ve seen, those personal jumps don’t have huge long term repercussions, so they tend to get done sooner or later.

    I see these huge life-changing risk moves mostly coming from secular game-changers and all-or-nothing believers. Game-changers would be those entrepreneurs or social advocates. All-or-nothing believers would be those completely dedicated to advancing God’s kingdom. These types make these risks because they have a great faith in themselves or God.

    Of course, the safety people can change to adventure people when they adopt a desire or passion that is far greater than themselves, like serving God. They would then have to make choices that exceed their ability to control the outcomes …. they would then have to rely on faith for things to work out.

    Hmmm…. to “conclude”, I’d say that people’s dreams and desires have to change for them to be adventurous enough to think about taking risks, to cast off moorings. To actually set sail into deeper, riskier waters, that would require faith.

  • Maybe expectations.

    We expect that to live big for God means diving into all the things that we fear/hate the most. Maybe it just means doing what we already like to do, but doing it better.

    As the aforementioned ENFP, I find it very easy to invest in people. But I leave God out of it way too often. I’ve been hearing God tell me to bring him into my conversations and investments more. I’ve built relationships with people, and it’s time to tell them about the person that really pulls my life together – to tell them my real story. It’s hard because it’s awkward, but really I’m just doing what I love to do to the very best of my ability.

    The real challenge is to find the adventure that God has for us in the everyday. Kind of like George Bailey.

  • I want to get it but I don’t . I feel like that rich man that spoke to Jesus. I long to go on a mission trip, and see the him, but I just have a hard time casting off. How can a high schooler let go of a sports team and family? Do I waite?

  • Caitlin,

    Go for a month during the off-season. Or go for as long as you can. and begin doing ministry locally to the homeless.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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