Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I’m diving in, I’m going deep,
In over my head, I want to be.
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow,
In over my head, I want to go.
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,
The river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in
--Steven Curtis Chapman "Dive"

I love water. I remember my first swimming lesson. It was a cool, summer day, and the early morning sun hadn't yet heated the water. I was seven years old, and trembled with excitement. I remember I took to the water like a fish. I was hooked and I couldn't wait to go again. All summer long I swam. Every summer after that, I couldn't wait for the pool to open. As I grew more comfortable in the water, I became bolder--jumping off the high dive into the deep, blue water. What fun that was for me! I loved to see how deep I could go; how long I could stay under water. I felt so free and at home in the water; almost like it was my second nature. That is until one day I had a mishap on the diving board.

The pool was crowded that day. I was standing at the edge of the diving board, and there were some older boys behind me. In their excitement, they hurriedly climbed onto the board directly behind me. The weight of all three of us caused the board to shake. Somehow, my foot caught on the edge of the board, and I feel head first into the water. I wasn't ready to dive in, and didn't catch my breath first. I hit the water hard and got a mouth and noseful of water. I sank to the bottom, and desperate for air, began furiously to try to reach the surface. My lungs felt like they were about to burst, and my nostrils stung from the water and chlorine I breathed in when I first hit the water. I somehow made it to the surface, crawled out of the pool, and parked myself in a recliner. I did not go into the pool for the rest of the afternoon. It took me awhile after that to get my nerve to go swimming again, but I never went to the deep end anymore. From then on, whenever I swam, I only went as deep as I could stand in the water. Five feet of water was my max. I was safe at five feet. There was no real chance that I could drown. No chance of any surprises. Five feet was good--but the deep end--dark blue, deep and peaceful, called to me.

My spiritual life was much the same. I'm a quiet and reserved person by nature, and just letting go and worshiping and trusting God seemed so out of control and scary to me. I envied people who seemed so at ease in sharing their faith--at praising God. People like Karen. She and I sang on our church's praise team together, and struck up a friendship. She was blonde, bubbly and warm. And very excited about Jesus. She talked about him every chance she got. Her love for the Lord was infectious. You couldn't help but get excited about Jesus when you were around Karen. I longed for and craved the deeper things of God. I wanted to serve God with reckless abandon.

A few years ago, I went to our church's annual Women's Retreat. During a break from our sessions, a few of us decided to gather at the pool. To my chagrin, everyone decided to hang at the deep end. Gathering my courage, I sat at the pool's edge and stuck my feet in the water. That was as deep as I was willing to go. That is until Karen got into the water. She just dove in. No diving board, no contemplation--just a 'jump on in, the water's fine' type of attitude. She dove deep. She did the backstroke. She did butterfly strokes. It was obvious she was a great swimmer. Someone remarked to her about it. She said that when she was in high school, she qualified for the US Olympics swim team. That explained it. She had such an ease and grace in the water--as if it was her second nature. As I watched Karen, I remember how I once too felt so at ease in the deep end. I wanted so badly to just jump in and swim; but the memory of my diving board disaster stopped me cold.

As I sat there, the Lord spoke to my heart: 'Just like you're afraid to go into the deep end, you're afraid of going into the deeper things of Me.' It was true. I became a Christian at nine years of age. When I was 13, I went to a revival with some friends of my mom. I don't remember much of the service except that it was extremely charged. I felt the power and presence of God touch me in a physical way that I have rarely felt since that time. Somehow I ended up at the altar. I was literally shaking from head to toe. The man running the revival was praying for other people when he suddenly stopped and looked me square in the eye. 'Young lady', he said, 'God has a great plan for your life.' I don't know why, but his words frightened me. I guess in my mind I thought he meant that God was going to make me into some sort of teenaged holy-roller. I was already a hopeless nerd--a female Steve Urkel, if you will. I didn't want to further distance myself from my peers by being a Jesus freak. So I ran from God.

But, God in his grace and goodness kept calling me, biding me to come into deeper fellowship with him. Sometimes I would answer. Sometimes I would actually stick my feet in the water. I'd read my Bible, sing a praise song or two, even pray. But there was still that nagging fear in the back of my mind. What will happen if I just dive in--just trust God with my whole heart? The thought of not controlling my own life frightened me. I liked running my own life and not having to answer to anyone. Oh sure, I trusted God with my salvation; basically because I had no alternative, but in my day-to-day life, I was the one in control. I didn't want to give God total control of my life because I had no idea where He was taking me.

A few days after the retreat, I decided to go for a swim. For awhile, I did my usual shallow end thing, but the deep end called my name once more. I went to the deep end, stuck my feet in and sat there for a minute. I thought about just jumping in, but my old fears resurfaced. However, I just sort of let myself fall in. The water was so warm and peaceful and calm. I loved it.

Soon afterwards I found myself being drawn to the deeper things of God. No longer am I satisfied by doing church as usual. My desire now is to live my life as pleasing to God. I don't want to be a Sunday morning Christian, but everyday I want to live my life for Christ. I want people to see Jesus in me. It's funny how the very thing I feared years ago is the thing I desire most. Getting in the deep end can do that.

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