Thursday, July 5, 2012

Deep Calls to Deep

Do you ever come to a place in your journey with God where He seems to "clear the table" of your heart, and sweep away all that you thought made for solid ground? Like those lofty ideals, good intentions, noble purposes, and precious convictions that had up till that point kept you afloat, and (supposedly) on a clear path, one that you knew He was leading you on? Suddenly that little boat you were sailing in turns out to be made of paper; it starts to disintegrate, and you realize it is no longer sea-worthy, and will never take you where you need to go. Well, it seems I am at that place now.

My boat. What has it been made of, and what has kept it afloat? In the beginning, it was constructed of fear of a God I did not know, and fear of a religion that kept me in a prison of rule-keeping. That boat sailed on choppy water indeed.  It was a raft, in fact, and I had to keep fending off the sharks of guilt and fear that continually threatened to overcome me. I was stuck there, floating on the ocean, trying to steady myself, knowing that at any minute that raft of my own righteousness could fall apart, and I would drown.

Then one day, it did fall apart. But God threw me a life preserver, and gave me the faith I needed to grab hold of it. I met Jesus. My boat then became more of a rubber dinghy, filled with the air of intoxication; and I bobbed along quite happily for a while. I was in love, and I knew I would never be the same again.

Shortly thereafter, I traded (reluctantly) my dinghy of starry eyed bliss for a rowboat. This required a lot of effort on my part. Effort to be "spiritual", and a "good Christian". Seemingly, there were still rules to follow, so once again I became entangled in the do's and dont's (thought I left them when I was rescued from my raft experience!) of the Christian life. That leg of the journey evolved into a flotilla, where I sailed alongside  many others. It was good to have company, but there was a sense of insecurity as well. I couldn't help but keep comparing my journey with those of my fellow companions. Did my boat measure up to theirs? Was my experience as "spiritual" as theirs? Was I keeping up to the best of them? Well, my arms eventually grew weary with the effort of all that rowing, and I traded my rowboat for a tugboat.

What, you might wonder, did my little tugboat pull? It was a heavy load indeed. Great, huge containers of SOUND DOCTRINE was what made up my cargo. It was slow going, but very satisfying for quite a while. I learned a lot. And was quite happy with my little tugboat; proud of the ever increasing weight of knowledge that I was accumulating. Till I began to notice that I was slowing down. All that I was dragging behind me eventually caused me to come to a complete standstill. Stuck. Too overloaded to move any further. And I realized that I had only traded in one set of rules for another. Rules about being "right", following the right teachers, reading the right books, believing the correct interpretation of scripture. I was full of information, but seemed farther away from where I wanted to go.

I didn't stay there. A sailboat came along, and I happily jumped aboard. This boat's name was "Biblical Church". I found confirmation for all the things that God had been filling my heart with, and I was free to be me in Christ. Quite an exhilarating ride. I met many others along the way, and had a renewed sense of purpose, and intimacy with Jesus. Determined to stay this course, God allowed me to travel in a small contingent of like minded sailors for a time. A blessing indeed.

Now that leg of the journey is over. And I find myself alone in the ocean once again. My destination isn't clear, in the way that it has been in the past. Maybe I have been trying to plot my own course, thinking that I knew what it should be. Maybe my "destinations" were not destinations at all, only points along the way. Maybe this time I won't have any boat at all. I will be like Peter, and simply walk toward Jesus on top of the water. Because, in the end, He is the destination. And the boat. And the wind. And the sails. And the arms that pull the oars. I know He is calling me, as He calls each one of His own. And, somehow, that is enough. Even if the ocean is dark, and there is no one else here with me. Even if all I do is "tread water' for a while. Maybe I just need to soak for a time, and let Him wash off all those wrong motives. Erase all the maps I have drawn up for myself when I charted my own course.

Maybe you are at one of those "stepping off" places. Stepping off, and stepping back. It's ok. Let yourself be in that place. Stop listening to every voice but His. He is there, waiting for you. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. We all need that rest, that respite. The world, even the religious world, can drown out His voice, but He will keep calling you till you come away to listen to Him.

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
Ps. 42:7,8

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