I hate putting my bathers on.
But anyway. I do. Occasionally. Put them on. And swim.
Public pools are weird. Like a big bath we all jump in and frolic around in the water, and because we know that we are all dirty, germy and prone to defecating in the water we make sure it is full of heart stoppingly strong chemicals. We don our bathers (swimsuits, trunks, swimmers, costumes, the things you wear when swimming because you can’t wear jeans in the pool), we make sure not to make eye contact with anyone, and we enjoy the buoyancy of chemically treated water. Bliss.
Sometimes God interrupts my life at weird moments.
Like the time I was at the pool, in the water, teaching my daughter to swim. Man, she is so cute with her swimming goggles on, but anyway, she was sitting on the edge of the pool, and I was waist high in the water. We were at the kiddy end, so waist high was as deep as it gets. (note to self: no backward press, twist somersault dives today).
My goggled cutie was perched gingerly on the edge of the pool, and I was standing not more than an arm’s length away. “Jump!”, “Jump to Mummy” I said in my overly high-pitched enthusiastic voice.
When I say Jump, I mean take the extremely safe and small leap into my arms, I am right here, you can trust me.
I look at her with my pleading eyes, excited for her to see how she can trust me, and how enjoyable the water is.
Death stare. As only a 3 year old can. Eyelids half closed, head tilted, suspicion seeping from the curve of her lips. *shakes head*
“Jump, you can do it!”
Silence. Stubbornness, defiance, mistrust, fear. Clinging to the edge, to safety, to the cold hard reliability of the known.
Tears. She wants to swim, but she can’t let go. Tears. She grips the edge; she can’t let go. Tears. She can’t trust what she can’t see.
“That’s you and me” he whispers.
I died for you, don’t you think I will catch you? Don’t you want to be in my arms, in the freedom of the water?
“That’s you and me”
You can trust me.
“That’s you and me”
I want to hold you, to swing you in my arms in delight”
“That’s you and me”
I’d like to say that after hearing God’s whisper I jumped. Carefree and trusting into the arms of my Father God.
I’d really like to say that.
Because it wasn’t just soft closing drawers that God wanted me to give him, he wanted it all. We forfeited our home, my business, our careers and our security. Just when we thought he had finished asking he asked for more. Our children, our community, our safety and our pride. We lay with our foreheads against the concrete having surrendered. He asked for this because he loves us. He is a loving Father who knows my fist is clenched, holding on to things that consume me. He knows that I have bought the lie that I can find contentment in anything other than him.
I’d like to say I trusted him and that I leapt into his arms with abandon. But I can’t. I can’t say that I willingly and easily gave my all to him. I can’t say that Christ was enough for me no matter how many times I sang it at Church. Because it’s a battle. It’s a battle for my soul and while I am sedated with my consumption, while I find my identity in my success, while I find my safety in my wealth the devil is satisfied.
Because I think perhaps, that if I learn to fly, if I learn to trust God, if I learn to and leap into the water with him, that’s when I am a weapon. When I let go of my façade and put on the armour of God, when I love my brothers and sisters, when I allow their pain to pierce through the fog of my selfishness, when relationship is restored, then his Kingdom is here.
Let your kingdom come. We sing that. But what if that means God asks us to have less? What if God asks us to let go? What if God asks us to take up our cross and follow him? What am I afraid of?
What if letting go is the Good Life?
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
So let’s imagine me at the beach…
I come from Western Australia, so when I imagine the beach, it has pearly white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and the odd white pointer shark.
I am also 6 feet tall, elegant, serene, lanky, swimsuit model type material… Hey, it’s my imagination!
Anyway, so there I stand. Soaking in the glory of God’s creation on the sand of a glorious beach, and he sits with me.
I soak him in.
I think about how he created the breeze that swirls my hair around my neck, the millions of sand particles I squish between my toes, the refreshing water I gingerly dip in, his eternal, almighty majesty envelops me. I stand up and grab a large weather worn stick. I walk over to the huge expanse of clean, firm, untouched sand.
I pierce the sand with the sharp edge of my stick. I look God straight in the eyes, so he knows I mean business, and like a petulant child I drag the stick, driving it deep into the sand with all my strength, I mark the sand. I draw a deep, wretched, scar across it, and I look at him, from across my childish line in the sand, and I say, “stay there”.
Never mind that he was and is and for evermore shall be. Never mind that he sent his son to die horrific death for me. Never mind that he created the sand, the stick and me.
I love you God. Cheers for the beach and the whole dying for me thing, you can come right up to this line, you can give me gifts from there, you can still hear my prayers, I can feel your presence, but don’t make me come any closer, don’t make me cross that line.
Why? What lies across the line? What am I afraid of? Why do I want him to keep his distance?
If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.
Perhaps you have drawn your own line in the sand. Perhaps, like me, you have found yourself captive to consumption. Perhaps you are afraid of letting go and crossing the line. Perhaps a dangerous prayer could change your world too.
The prayer of a woman who sits in slavery, waiting for God’s people to come. The prayer of a self-absorbed mum in the burbs seeking serenity. The prayer asking God for peace, for contentment and for freedom from the bondage of consumption.
Freedom that has already been purchased, we just need to let go and grab it.
Bec is a strikingly ordinary individual and a faulty follower of Jesus. She is best known for awkward moments, inappropriate thoughts and Australian humour. Her blogs reflect her deep commitment to discovering God and her passion for the poor. Bec has a husband, four ankle biters and a dog that matches the cushions on her couch, because that’s important.