My Boat Story by Joni Hyde

Welcome my friend Joni Hyde today. She is a precious woman of God sharing her heart with women in the church and community. Today she shares the story of how God called her to teaching a lifegroup at our church earlier this year. Joni illustrates that if we are listening God is always speaking to us. This is Part 1. Join us next week for Part 2 of the story.

In February 2011 our church started a program called “The New Frontier Awaits.” This program challenged members to step out of their comfort zones and look for new opportunities to serve God, the church, and the community. This was a monthly endeavor in which our Pastor asked us to prayerfully seek God’s will for our lives.  As I pondered what my “new frontier” was going to be I thought, “well I can at least serve as a greeter as I love being around folks, or work in the guest reception area because I enjoy connecting people to a Life Group” (Sunday school for us old school folks).

I work part time at our church and every month our Pastor has a “Big Group” staff meeting where he shares devotion, informs us about new programs that are being considered in the church, and speaks to each ministry involved at our church. One day at a staff meeting, our Women’s Ministry leader, Jennifer Hembree, asked for prayer for someone to help Co-Teach with her. I quickly said to myself and Jennifer that I would be happy to pray, never considering that I might be the answer to her prayer request.

Later that week I was reading a passage in Matthew 14:28 that says “…and Peter answered him, Lord if it is you, command me to come…so Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water and came to Jesus.” Now, I have read this story and heard it preached so many times that I can’t count them all. For some reason, that day it seemed as if God might be talking to me. What was He saying? Then it hit me, “Get out of the boat!” Or, in other words, “Get out of your comfort zone.” I finally said “Okay God, I’m willing to get out of the boat, now what?”

The Lord showed me what He wanted me to do…..Co-Teach the Bible study with Jennifer. Me? Teach? Are you serious? I have never led a devotion much less taught a Bible study. Have you ever had a moment where you wanted to take back what you said or claim that’s not what you meant? This is where I wanted to swim back to the boat and get in where it was “comfortable” or at least hang onto the side of the boat for security reasons. I was running from God!

Doubt took hold of my mind and so many things flooded my thoughts. I started making excuses about why I could not teach, “God, you know I can’t teach like other ladies in the church” and “I don’t know enough about Your word,” I began sinking. More excuses, “What if I lead someone down the wrong path or give them the wrong advice?” By this time I felt like I was almost underwater…..just like Peter when he looked down and immediately he started to sink. Instead of keeping his eyes on the Lord, he looked at his circumstances. Now here I was doing the same thing. I was giving excuse after excuse and all I needed to do was look up and keep my eyes on Jesus. I was running from God.

The next day the Lord brought me back to Matthew 14:31 and I read down a little further. It says “Jesus immediately reached to him and said “Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Isn’t it funny how we read what we want and just stop on certain Scriptures but when we read a little further down He gives us the meat He wants us to chew on. Here He is, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, yet I doubted! I was still running from God.

That same weekend Pastor Tim stated in a Sunday message, “We have one foot on the shore and the other in the boat.” I actually turned my feet in as I thought, “Okay God, you can stop stepping on my toes now, I get it.” Yet, I was running from God.

The next week during a summer series class at our church, Carey Phillips, our Ministries Pastor, was teaching and he made a statement that gave me more grief. And what did he say?  “We need to get out of the boat.” I had a lump in my throat when he said that and I quickly said, “Okay God, help me to trust in YOU and only YOU.” I knew I needed to go to Jennifer and talk with her about what I felt God wanted me to do. We talked and she prayed with me. I knew the only way to have peace was to surrender to HIM and stop running.

A month later, we had a women’s leadership meeting. We met at the home of Melinda Moffett, who is founder of God Spa, a place designed for women to go for a day of retreat with God.

There was worship music, praying, and times of learning from experienced leaders in the church. Later we had lunch.  I sat down at the dining room table and was devouring the scrumptious lunch when I looked up and saw in the middle of the table the most beautiful sight! There sat a wooden boat almost as long as the table itself. A Cross! Was this a coincidence? Maybe, but I tend to think, “No, this was God” and it was further confirmation that teaching was exactly what I was supposed to do!

I think it is amazing how the smallest details make such a huge impact. We all tend to look for God to show us things in big letters, huge blinking lights or writing on the wall. However we just need to stop, be still, see and hear what He is telling us to do.

Thinking it could not get any better I found out our first semester of Bible study was going to be about “Jonah,” by Priscilla Shirer. How awesome was that? I had water, boat and now Jonah.

God continually amazes me in how He takes care of every single, finite little detail from the beginning to end!


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