Immersion

Thanks to http://www.scottenglishphoto.com/blog/ for the picture, Scott Milam is an amazing photographer.

When my parents moved to Phoenix with young Children it was very important to them to enroll us in swimming lessons.  Safety was, of course, a large concern but there was also the social aspect.  To be unable to swim in the city was to be a leper at summer parties and various hang outs.  As a result they made certain we learned well and my brothers and I are comfortable, though perhaps not graceful, in any aquatic environment.

I have been thinking about a metaphor this week.  I grew up in the Church, and became a Christian in Junior High.  Through Young Life in college I was made aware of the mission of the Church and the means to carry it out in a way I had never before imagined.  Years later I went to Seminary and have in the process discovered a call to be a pastor, not to mention the depth and complexity that Scripture, Tradition and the Lord represent.

You see, growing up, I was aware of the waters of faith.  I became able to swim when I was in college and I believed myself to be pretty good at it.  Yet I was always in the shallow end of the pool, just barely dangling my toes off the edge.  This is not to pass judgement on that season in my faith, I belonged in the shallow end, I couldn’t handle myself in rougher seas.  Following a significant loss in my life after college I found myself thrown into the deep end, sputtering, gasping and coughing for air in heretofore unknown environment.  It was a time of great crisis, confusing pain and all I could do was tread water and hope for some sight of land.  I wondered if there was a God, if He existed if He was even good at all, and whether or not He was harming me on purpose, knowing just where to hurt me.  I didn’t even know that the deep end existed.

Seminary has been the discovery that the Christian life is no safe swimming pool but rather a deep ocean, in which I have only been wading thus far.  Through my professors, excellent books, the Bible, Prayer and the Psalms in particular I have slowly learned to swim.   Indeed I have grown to be strong and confident, unconcerned by the possibility of monsters below the surface.  Filled with a sense of adventure when I go far from land and any safe reference point or easy answers, yet able to return without losing myself amid the waves.  It is here, in this season, that I have begun to appreciate books in the wisdom tradition in the Old Testament, the Jewish scriptures.  Here I find books like Job which ask questions and raise troubling issues, all the while shooting down pat religious answers or simple cliches about the nature of God.  I am learning the difference between floating and diving deep. I am learning the difference between defending him and preaching the good news about him.  I am learning to grow comfortable with tension and live into the vast mystery that an infinite God represents.

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