Lets throw it back to January of 2015! I went on an awesome road trip with some even better friends to College Weekend at Windy Gap in North Carolina. It was such a grand experience, but I left feeling like I was too comfortable. The speaker talked about how too many Christians are willing to stay in the boat because we seek comfort and security over Jesus(Matthew 14:22-33).  We see Jesus in our periphery, but that is good enough for us. Bold words if you are asking me. He talked about the difference between “seeing” Jesus and “experiencing” him while walking on water.

Matthew 14:25-33 — At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come ahead.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?” The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

What a challenge.. Christ calls us to leave comfort and security, and to walk on water. I am not too keen on being uncomfortable. Now fast forward to last 6 months. I firmly felt the Lord pushing me to Raleigh, NC, but was placed in Asheboro, NC for Young Life staff. I found out I was turned down for that position and asked to wait a year to pursue YL Staff. I thought I was obeying the Lord and stepping out onto the water. I was devastated.. My heart hurt, but my pride hurt even more. I felt betrayed because I thought I clearly felt nudges from the Lord to pursue North Carolina. This was Young Life. I was good at doing Young Life. I loved ministry and loved telling high school kids about Jesus even more. Why wasn’t I could enough. I did not understand. But man the Lord had something else in mind. Here comes this idea to apply for the Raleigh Fellows, not knowing anything about the program. My prayer had consistently been that the Lord would make me uncomfortable and step out of the boat for Him.

Now fast forward to middle of August. I was packing up my life in Arizona to leave for Raleigh. It still hadn’t sunk in yet how hard this move was going to be. I think the excitement and joy of something new clouded this fear. I get to Raleigh on August 22nd after one heck of a road trip visiting so many friends and family along the way. It left me feeling ecstatic about this move. I had two weeks in Raleigh before the program started and it was spent getting loved on by the amazing Cockerham family that have truly won over my heart. The Cockerham’s had been my summer staff coordinators the summer of 2015 when I worked at Windy Gap. But the transition happened… I moved in with my host family, The Boultons. They are such a fun family to be around. There is Bryon and Stacy who have 4 boys: Daniel (10), David (8), Noah (5), and Josiah (3). The program was getting ready to start..  in 3.. 2.. 1.. Go!

And that is how it happened.. It was like a sprint the first week. So many new and different things. I met so many people the first day, then that night we left for orientation retreat at Atlantic Beach with 9 other people that I did not know. What a whirlwind.. Over the next week, I got introduced to the youth group I would be serving in, my job at Step Up Ministry, a whole new church at The Church of the Apostles, seminary classes that prove to challenge the way I think, and community with the 8 other Fellows and Ashley our program director (pictured above). I realized quickly that I felt like a fish out of water.

The past 5 years of my life had been college and loads of Young Life. I was good at those things.. But now, all I felt was discomfort and I didn’t like it. I was overwhelmed with everything new that was happening in Raleigh while my heart was still back in Phoenix with my family and friends. I found myself shutting down my personality, putting on a smile, saying I am doing great, and feeling like I was failing as Richie and the program. I became quiet.. Yes I became quiet! I felt isolated and alone. I did not feel myself. I told God that I did not want to be uncomfortable.. I regretted asking for this. I ached to see my routine and comfort. I hated feeling like a failure and a screw up. The devil consistently fed me lies of my worth. But at the same time, Jesus said to look into his eyes. I will admit.. I did not want to. I wanted to do this by myself. I did not want help. I wanted to be good enough to succeed. I wanted to be enough. That just left me hurt even more.

The past few weeks since the program started on September 7th, I have kept reading those bible verses that have clenched my heart for almost 2 years. I am not going to say everything is fixed or easy now. I still find myself holding back and wondering if I can and will connect fully. Those questions are my insecurity while stepping out of the boat. This is where the blog title comes from. But what I am trying to do is hold on to Jesus’ hand and look into his eyes. I quickly realized during these past few weeks that is all I can hold on to. The storm around me which consists of new and discomfort pales in comparison to the grip Jesus has on me. Even if I do not believe or trust at times He can hold me. Walking on water is terrifying because it goes against everything I think should be normal and routine. Jesus is breaking molds and structures I have in place in my mind. He is tearing down walls I have so neatly built. But my hope for this blog (https://manoutoftheboat.wordpress.com) is to be a place to talk about my fear, thoughts, experiences, and trying to trust in Jesus as a … Man Out of the Boat.

Richie Rojas