Get Out of the Boat!

25 Comments 01 April 2010

“‘You have so little faith,’ Jesus said.  ‘Why did you doubt me?'”  Matthew 14:31

You would likely not be surprised to know that when you tell people you are expecting quintuplets or that you have quintuplets, you open the door for those people and many others to give you advice, offer their support and encouragement, have a nice laugh in bewilderment, or any combination of reactions ranging from shock to awe.    Meeting people, seeing their reactions, hearing their stories, and learning from their words of wisdom – this has been one of the more enjoyable pieces that has been added to this puzzle we now call our life.  Our lives have been opened up like never before and in response, many have opened up their own lives to ours and for that we are extremely grateful!  We never realized the potential of community in our own lives until that day when poor Dr. Silverberg (God bless him, I think he nearly had a heart attack that day!) dutifully counted out the five future fabs that were then growing in Casey’s belly!

One of the more frequent versions of the casual counsels we have received goes something like this:  “Don’t worry, God only gives you what he knows you can handle.”  And believe me, these words have served as great comfort at many of the more stressful, chaotic, and otherwise difficult moments during our great adventure!  What a thought – to know that the God of the universe knows that you can handle your current circumstances, believes in your abilities to succeed, and trusts you to do what will serve his purposes best can be incredibly motivating.  It kind of makes you believe you can run through a brick wall or…walk on water…or something like that!  Trouble is, I believe that this sentiment could not be farther from the truth of how Christ expects us to react to the challenges we face and how he works in our lives through the obstacles that threaten to wipe us out…

For some of you, I imagine you might have to pick yourself up off of the floor after reading that last statement, but stay with me a bit longer and hear me out.  Here is how my thinking goes…

(And let me preface this by saying that I am no Biblical scholar and I am not an expert on anything about which I am speaking.  These are only my thoughts based on my experiences and the teaching I have received, nothing more.)

Here is how I see it – God does not trust us…he knows us all too well for that!  He knows our abilities, he knows our talents, and he knows our weaknesses and he also knows that we are just about guaranteed to screw up most of what he asks of us.  And he is perfectly ok with that.  What I believe is that, knowing our inabilities and our fears and our weaknesses, God intentionally gives us challenges that are way above our pay grade.  Way, way, way, way above it in many cases!  I absolutely believe he did that individually with me and with Casey and even with Little Miss Sunshine, Eliot McKenna, and also with us collectively as a family.  Do you really believe that God would test us just to confirm for himself that he knew we could handle it all along?  Again, I’m no expert, but I do not believe this is how it works.  Rather, I believe he tests us in order to force our hand, to create circumstances in our lives which cause us to make the decision, one way or the other.   Do we leave our own ambitions and judgments and understanding behind us and lean on him like we have never leaned before?  Or instead do we continue to do things our way and shoulder the load with no guiding hand from above?

Those who follow my tweets and Facebook postings may have seen me post something along these lines in the recent past:  “Get out of the boat!  Fix your eyes on Christ and dare to live the life he has planned for you!”  Of course I am referencing the Bible story in which Peter the Apostle, a normal human being by all other accounts, walked on water.  It is an amazing story of Christ’s power over the natural world we live in, but here is the deal:  Peter can’t walk on water, just as you and I can’t do the same and Christ knows it!  And if our Lord had not been there to lift him up when Peter’s personality got in the way of his connection with Christ, we would be telling a different story today about that stormy night at sea.  No, Peter didn’t do a thing on his own, except cower in fear as the waves crashed around him before answering the call from his father out on the water.

Think about this…in four months time I started a new business, welcomed two new soon-to-be sisters into our family when my parents took in two foster children, found out we were having quintuplets, and started an MBA program about which I was already concerned given the expense and the time it would require.  I’m not telling you this in an effort to brag on myself; believe me, I have little to brag about.  I’m telling you this to illustrate just how far God will go to prove to you how impossible this life can be when you live it without him.  I’m telling you this to illustrate the amazing power his hand can have in an individual’s life, if only you first accept the call, just as Peter did.  I started my business nearly two years ago and the other three dominoes fell shortly thereafter.  And two years ago, I was wholly inadequate to respond to any of the challenges that were then careening around the bend, their course set for a head-on collision with me and the rest of this little family.  I was wholly inadequate to handle those challenges, except for one very important detail…God was in control…then, now, and always.

Casey and I are normal people with normal needs, wants, abilities, weaknesses, fears, failures, successes, desires, and demands.  Actually, I am all of those things; Casey on the other hand is absolutely amazing in every single way!!  I however am a normal person who encountered far from normal circumstances and responded the only way I knew how – I gave it up to God (and of course the same is true of Casey, except for that “normal person” part).  And while the road has never been easy, (not for even one single minute!) the ride has been wholly extraordinary in only a way that he can deliver.

So, my intent in writing this blog today is not to offend or upset anyone or necessarily to change anyone’s opinion on life and Christ and all things in between.  I simply wanted to offer a different perspective, one that has enabled us to have peace amidst our own stormy nights at sea.  It is a comforting thought to trust that God would not give you any more than you can handle and I do not blame anyone for believing that to be true.  But I do hope that you will consider what I have said.  And I also hope you come to know as I have that the true power and potential that lies within all of us lies firmly in Christ’s hands, not ours.  And if we would like to unleash that power in our own lives, all he asks is that we get out of the boat and dare to live the life that he has planned for us.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

God Bless,

Ethan, dv

Your Comments

25 Comments so far

  1. Tira J says:

    Great post Ethan! Thank you for sharing your heart and what you believe to be true for so many of us. If we do TRUST IN THE LORD, he will continue to guide us down his path. Blessings on your day.

  2. Christy says:

    Ethan…wow…just love your words! It is so true. You are an amazing family and to see that you give it ALL up to Him is amazing! Thank you for taking time out of your hectic family life to share your words with us! I pray that God will truly bless your family and allow you to keep shining for Him to all the world!!!

    Kiss Casey & those precious babies!!!

    Lots of love!

  3. Valerie says:

    i totally agree. personally, i am always closer to God during the hard times. it’s easy to get cocky and independent when things are good, but in times of trial and challenge, that’s when i go running back. and even though he “should” say, “sorry, kid, i won’t take you back this time,” he doesn’t. every time, he takes us back.
    he WANTS us back… like you said, he WANTS us to lean on him. i should do it more often.

  4. Tori says:

    Your thoughts are honestly pretty much what I have thought about that scripture. This was a wonderful post Ethan. :)

  5. Valerie says:

    off the subject of your post…
    i am wondering, what is your all’s typical day like? how do you two manage the logistics of feedings/baths/naps, etc.? every night when my husband gets home we enter what he calls “the abyss” of the evening routine that takes a good 3 hours from start to finish–dinner, baths, bed—and that’s just with TWO kids!
    how do yall do it? do you bathe all the kids every night? how long do they cry when you put them to bed before they all fall asleep? and what about eliot? what is she doing during all of this? tonight my son was wandering around the house whining while i was trying to get the baby to sleep and my husband was out mowing and i thought my head was going to start spinning and explode like rosie the robot maid on the jetsons…

  6. Beth Chaol says:

    Your writing is outstanding and may God Bless you in every way. I believe in God and he has a hand in every thing we do on a second to second basis. Your choices you have made with your family are yours and people want to be judgemental about that…let them.

    It is your calling and one day God will thank you for what you do and your kids will love you for what you have done for them.

    Having a big family these days is very strenuous on every one’s mind, pocketbook, and heart. However, taking it in stride and writing these blogs is such a great way to express yourself and your family. You do a great job of it!


  7. Lynn says:

    Very well said and very true. I am very proud of the man you have become, son. It hasn’t always been easy, it hasn’t always been been perfect – sometimes far from it, but as long as you always kept your hand reaching up to God’s He was faithful to keep His lifeline available. One day we will see the path we took and understand so perfectly. Until then, we trust. Love ya!

  8. Kristen says:

    I absolutely loved this post. I am one guilty as charged who wrote you an email with the quote “god only gives us what we can handle.” (I just wrote it last week so I have a feeling I may have sparked something in your brain lol)You just said what I was trying to say but couldn’t find the words. Thank you for once again opening my eyes…your words are so true and so from the heart.

  9. Kayla says:

    What an amazing post…and very well said!

  10. Jodi Lee says:

    You need to write a book! You have a real talent with the written word! Good luck….sounds like you and Casey are doing great!

  11. Alexis says:

    What a great post and perspective! I have never thought of it like that until now, but it is completely true! Imagine doing everyday life without God and the everyday challenges that comes with it! All of our fears, failures, successes and everything in between are in his hands, truly something to be thankful for!

  12. Jan says:

    You have an amazing outlook on this subject. I have to laugh though, because just the other day I actually wrote those very words you talk about to you on facebook. I have to admit I have never thought about it that way, but I do certainly agree with you. Thanks for this!

  13. Rachelle says:

    Great post! You guys are doing a great job with everything!

    We finally watched your show and it was really interesting. It brought back a lot of old memories and feelings for me.

  14. Klin says:

    I would just like to add “Amen” you your beautiful testimony.

  15. Anne says:

    I like how you explain this idea. I’ve always learned/heard/thought of this idea as “God doesn’t give you anything that the you and He can’t handle together.” :)

  16. Susie says:


    1 Cor 4: “8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ”

    The Lord knows how to break us, but not beyond repair; a friend of mine calls it “increasing capacity.” A Christian’s life WILL contain items we cannot handle ALONE, but the resulting rich relationship with our creator is worth every struggle.

    Just settling down from a morning of daycare and a screaming baby. Thanks for the wonderful dose of perspective!

  17. KS Dallas says:

    Yesterday I had something come up and I said to myself… God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, right? And then… I LAUGHED. I remembered your post and how true it is. I immediately gave my problem over to God and know he will handle it for me. It was nice to get a chuckle in the middle of a trying time. I will always laugh when I think of that saying and remember this post. Thanks!!

  18. DA New Hampshire says:

    God bless you all and how true! Your post also brings to mind the parable of the vineyard and the vine master (or was it wine master?). How in order for the vine to bear much fruit, the vine master had to drastically prune the vine. Well, God prunes as all from that which keeps us from Him. I think that once pruned and after we learn to rely on Him rather than ourselves, does He start to give only as much as we can handle….until we need to be pruned again!

  19. Hilary says:

    My thoughts exactly!

  20. Molly says:

    I saw your show last evening and was so moved by your story. Your family is beautiful and although it is sometimes difficult to see the “plan” for your life, you all are doing a wonderful job keeping things in perspective. I will pray for you all and God Bless you!

  21. Kristie says:

    I watched your show for the first time last week and was very impressed by your family. The spirit of Christ shines through your countenance. Casey seems so patient and loving. Sometimes I get discouraged at the mundane things I do everyday as a mother of 4 children. I wonder if this is really gods plan for me. God tends to put me in my place from time to time and I am reminded that he entrusted these sweet spirits to me. There is nothing more important than to raise them in a happy, loving home and to teach them about him and our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that’s what I need to do right now at this time in my life and when my kids are grown I will enjoy the fruits of my labors. Thank you for letting us into your lives and sharing your testimony. You have a beautiful family.

  22. Sue says:

    This is a beautiful post. I added Proverbs 3.5 to my favorite quote list! Thanks.

    I loved the show, I hope it continues. I saw for a brief second a sign in copper above your stove…what does it say…I think it was the scripture My house will serve the caught my eye.

    Thank you…

  23. Danielle says:

    Yes I so agree with you. I have thought of this same truth differently though (much more simple thought) My interpretation of this: God allows trials in our life, to bring us closer to Him. And HE only gives us that which we can hanle with His assistance!
    God bless! I love your blog, and have watched on TV too

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