As a kid, I wanted what every kid wants – to be normal. I didn’t tell anyone about my disease. I didn’t want anyone to see me differently, to pity me. I didn’t want to answer all of the questions about the twenty to thirty pills I took every day or the treatments I did at home or why I saw the doctor so much more often than my healthy friends or why I was in the nurse’s office every day. I wanted to be able to go over to a friend’s house without dragging medical equipment with me. I wanted to be able to run around with my friends without coughing so much it sounded like I was hacking up a lung. And so, for me, it was easier to just not talk about it.
Because it did make me different. I had to grow up really fast. I had to learn to take care of myself and my health. I had to reconcile with a life expectancy nearly half of that of my friends and family. I learned the science and the medicine, to be my own advocate in my health. I learned to begin trusting God at the ripe young age of 5. My friends thought I was the mature one, that I had it all figured out, that I got it. But I was afraid of things just like they were, I had insecurities just like they did. But I didn’t want their pity, I didn’t want to be different. I didn’t talk about my CF. I hid it under the rug as much as I could. Because I’d seen the bad reactions to my disease: the people who turned and ran away from me because they didn’t want to understand, or couldn’t. The people who I thought cared about me but really couldn’t see past the sickness. The people who saw me differently, who made fun of me because of my disease. The people who told me I couldn’t amount to anything because I was going to die young. The ones who told me they couldn’t be my friend because I was just going to die and leave them here. The ones who told me they could never love me because I was unlovable.
And so my comfort zone was not telling people. My safety net was not letting anyone potentially be able to hurt me. My very comfortable little wooden boat, with some holes, but it floated. But then God called me out of it.
Remember the passage in Matthew 14 where Jesus is walking on the water and Peter steps out on the water to walk to him?
The Gospels do not record any hesitation on Peter’s part. There was no, “Really, Jesus? I don’t think I want to get out of the boat any more” or “Um, I think I’ve changed my mind. I know who you are now.” or “How about just a toe, and I’ll hang on to the boat?”
Just like Peter, I was called out of my boat. But I didn’t just step out of it. It took God many, many times to get me to step out in faith, in boldness, and trust that He could use my story for good.
Because I didn’t think that I had a story. I didn’t think that I had a testimony. Because what could God have possibly done through a life so broken, so sick, with someone who had something wrong with them? I heard other people’s testimonies in church – the drug addict who had been called out of addiction to become a pastor. The woman who was led out of prostitution to become a missionary to those still in prostitution. The ones who God had done amazing things through, the testimonies that made you want to lift up your hands in praise.
I didn’t have a testimony like that. I was just a person with an early expiration date that couldn’t do anything for the Kingdom. I thought that my struggles, my insecurities were my own and that no one else struggled with them too. I thought that God could never use a person so broken as me.
But He does. He uses broken pots of clay for His glory.
My CF and the struggles it has brought have always been a part of my story. But now it is so much more because I’ve seen God work through it. I’ve seen him bring a mother to tears, accepting that the healing for her son she wanted was not coming, but that life was possible even when the healing doesn’t come. I’ve seen him change the hearts of my co-workers, letting them see patients as people, not just diseases. I’ve seen him encourage women who have been rejected, as I have, by a man, told I was not good enough to ever be loved because I was going to die young. That no one could ever love me. But that His love is so much greater. I’ve seen Him use my words in so many ways that I could never have imagined, use me in many more ways that I ever expected.
I can tell you this with certainty today: God is calling you out of your boat, out of your comfort zone. I don’t know what your comfort zone is. And I don’t know where God is calling you – to ministry, to reconciliation with a friend or with family, to sharing your story, to boldly going where you never thought you would. But I do know that He is calling you out of your boat. “Take courage!” He says. “Don’t be afraid!” Because God wouldn’t be calling you out of your boat unless He was going to be with you every step of the way. Remember when Peter stepped out of the boat? He kept His eyes on Jesus. And when the wind and the waves frightened him and he thought he was going to drown, who was there to take his hand? Jesus.
So, when you step out of your boat, whether it’s with all the gusto of a new adventure and no looking back or kicking and screaming all the way, look to the One who calms our fears, who is the author and perfecter of our faith, who commands even the wind and the waves, the One who died so that we might live. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and boldly walk out in faith where He has called you. And He will be there. Right beside you, all the time.
When you step out of your boat, you’re stepping out into the great unknown, where feet may fail, where fear surrounds you.
So this is my prayer today, as I pray it is yours as well:
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
So 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
Kristen Entwistle is a graduate student pursuing her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University. She helps to lead worship at her church on Sunday mornings and leads a women’s Bible study on Saturday mornings. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was three months old, and has seen God work through the ups and downs of life and through her disease. In response to God’s calling, Kristen started All For Him, a ministry seeking to encourage and challenge women of all ages in Christ.
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