Floridian summer, splashing in the swimming pool, enjoying the tropical weather and cool water on my skin. As a child, I loved the water. Deeper than most home pools, ours had a true shallow end and deep end. The shallow end was fun. We would play games and splash each other and just relax half in and half out of the water.
The nine-foot deep end was something other. A good swimmer from a young age, I didn't hesitate to launch myself across the drop-off that signaled the end of the shallow side and the beginning of the long deep. The exquisite pleasure of feeling the water's embrace was ample compensation for the leap out of shallow comfort.
I believe all new Christians and Christians who are just beginning to take faith seriously start in the shallow end, and there's nothing amiss. We learn the basics of Christian life, the ways we can modify our outward presentation to look more Christian, and we begin to splash around in the waters of grace, every now and then getting a tantalizing taste of what it feels like to be immersed.
Then there's a drop-off. Whether we realize it in the moment, later, or not at all, there's a time when we're called, wooed really, to leave the easy comfort of the shallow end. We're asked to move beyond the Christian trappings and routines we've established and run toward deeper waters. Our feet start to feel the ground rolling away from underneath us, and we are confronted with the choice of launching or running back to the shallow end. Will we find comfort in our rut, or will we risk the drop to find out what is on the other side?
And what is on the other side? For those who choose to leap, the rewards are indescribable. The heart-quaking drop is followed by an all-encompassing embrace as the soul is brought into ever-increasing awareness of his or her position in the heart of God. We find that above, below, beside, and around us is Him, His presence, His embrace of our existence. Are we at risk? Of course. We have no shallow ledge to stand on. And yet, as a child, I was not worried by the deep end. If I grew too tired to swim, I could simply float on the gentle water. In the same way, when our lives become overwhelming, the deep end of His love is what bears us up and keeps us going.
Can a person be a Christian without going deeper? I believe the answer is yes; Christ's sacrifice covers all Christians, regardless. Just as my great-grandmother would always sit in the shallow end of the pool and never move beyond it, a Christian can stick to the basics.
But there is so much more.
Have you ever seen children in a pool? Often, a child will hesitate to jump into the water. The one thing that makes almost every child's fear evaporate is the sight of daddy holding out his arms to catch the little one when he or she finally decides to take a chance and jump.
As we stand at our life's drop off, we are not left alone to weigh the decision of whether or not to risk it all and throw ourselves completely into grace. If we look with spiritual eyes of faith, we will see the Father holding out His arms for us and saying "Jump! I will catch you, and I will never let you go."Do you feel like your faith life is still in the shallow end? What can we do to deepen our spiritual lives? How do you get the courage to take the plunge?