Thursday, September 17, 2009

Safe Waters

I love talking with my grandchildren, which is why I was on the phone with Gabe earlier this summer, even though he was camping up at Suttle Lake. I knew the day had been warm and his mommy and daddy were planning on taking him and his little brother swimming at nearby Scout Lake, so I thought I would check in to see how it went.

Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi Gabe, did you go to the lake with your mommy and daddy today?”

“Yes, gramma”.

“Did you have fun swimming in the lake, Gabe?”

“No, gramma.”

“Didn’t you like swimming with your Daddy?”

“No gramma, ‘cuz if you want to swim, YOU HAVE TO GET ALL WET!”

To which I had no reply. But later I thought about that little conversation. You have to know, Gabe LIKES water. He likes to take a bath, he loves to run through the sprinklers and he even enjoys swimming in our community pool. Then it struck me, those are all very safe, controlled environments where he can see the bottom or control the flow. Swimming in a lake could, indeed, be quite frightening. You don’t know what lurks beneath and beyond and there is always a chance you will go to far from the safety of the shore.

How often through my life have I cried out to the Lord, “I want to know you more.” But I want it on my terms, in the safety of what I can see and control. He calls out as he did to Peter that day in the storm, “Come”. But I am afraid, knowing that I, like Peter, may sink into the depths. And so I content myself to wade along the shore, longing for more but afraid of the “what ifs?” I know my Father is there, I know he has promised to care for me, yet still I hold back, knowing that to swim, I will have to “get all wet”.

Peter understood this well, which is why he was brutally honest with Jesus that day on the shore of Galilee. He knew his own heart; he knew his failings and his fears. Gone was the bluster and blow of just a few weeks prior. Read the story in John. After the resurrection, Jesus comes again to some of his disciples. They are out in a boat, fishing, something they know well and find a comfortable familiarity in, even though they fished all night and caught absolutely nothing! In the morning, they saw a man standing on the shore. He called out to them asking if they had any fish. Unlike many a fisherman, they chose to answer honestly. “No”, was the curt reply.

Then came the exhortation, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” I suspect it was at that time they began to wonder just WHO the man was that was giving them instructions. The words must have seemed vaguely familiar, but it was not until they followed the command and landed a haul of fish larger than they were able to handle, that Peter realized, “It is the Lord!”

Jumping out of the boat Peter heads to shore, for, as the scripture records, “They were not far from land.” Safe territory, Peter could handle this.

After a breakfast of fish, prepared by Jesus himself, Peter found himself alone with the Lord. Then came the question, not once but three times. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

I hear that question a lot, of late. "Robyn, do you love me?” Like Peter, I find myself hedging, for I know what my response will cost. “If you love me” Jesus says, “you will keep my commandments.”

What is he asking of me? That I take up His cross, that I give up control of my life, that I launch out into waters where I do not know what lies below and beyond. And always, always, there is the danger that I will be so far from the safety of shore I will have to rely totally upon Him.

Jesus knows my heart and yet he keeps asking, that I might know my heart. Finally I, like Peter, respond, “Yes, Jesus, I love you.” His response is simple and sincere, “Follow me.”

Though I love the safety of the shore, I yearn to know Him more. And so, I follow.