Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Deep Thoughts from the Shallow End of the Pool

From my early, well more like ancient, days of being a toddler bathing in the sink and playing in a conglomeration of blow up pools decorated with fish and smiling octopuses, I have had a dream. A dream deeply rooted in my love of water and sun. My dream- to have an in ground pool. I have memories of visiting friends with pools, envious of the favor God had shown them. Forget the coat of many colors, (they no longer come in my size anyway), throw me in a pit filled with water any day. Oh, to frolic and float in the crystal clear water of my own private aquatic refuge.
Well, my dream has come true. We now have an in ground pool.
I have done little frolicking and the only things floating have been the little bugs that have managed to escape my vengeful skimming net. Crystal clear water comes with a price. There are chemicals to make it bluer, chemicals to keep it from turning green, chemicals that make it cloudy while cleaning it, and more chemicals to remove the cloud. Once you have the clear water, then you can clearly see the bottom which holds treasures, that I would prefer remain hidden. This discovery now requires hauling out the 50 foot hose attached to a 15 foot pole and vacuuming the entire bottom of the pool. Of course, oddly enough, the hose cannot suck up the lawn furniture deposited there by the storm. So I, in one of my rare appearances in the pool, must dive 10 feet down to retrieve the lawn chair. I sat in it for a moment to rest before hauling it to the surface.
But in spite of all the toil and the tears I have found great joy in watching my children swim. They seem to become engrossed in their own world of aquatic play and forget I am there, resulting in a very entertaining show. I watched my son Nathan baptize his brother and sister so sweetly and tenderly. I watched Rachael baptize her brothers- plunging them backward and forwards repeatedly as they gasped for air, as if there was sin still struggling to hang on. I have watched Ben enter the pool every single time with a passionate leap, unhindered by the frost on the ground in late April and freezing water. I have watched the kids drag out every floatable device they can find, giving the appearance of frogs jumping from lily pad to lily pad.
My favorite memory this year by far, though, is of Rachael. Rachael is not a strong swimmer so I have insisted that she wear an inner tube in the deep end until she improves. One afternoon I watched as Nathan was repeatedly jumping into the deep end, also not a strong swimmer, and Rachael with her hot pink inner tube, would swim to save him.
Rachael informed me, "I'm practicing saving people."
I was cracking up, on the inside, thinking the most valuable asset a lifeguard could have, is the ability to swim themselves. I don't think I would find much confidence in a lifeguard who has to have nose plugs, ear plugs, a swim cap, arm floaties, and a big inflatable duck around his or her waist. I found it so humorous that Rachael thought she could be a lifeguard when her only qualification was-she had a float that kept her from drowning too.
But then in a single moment my heart was convicted. Sadly, that is my spiritual mentality also.
I only want to perform or handle tasks that match my gifting, talents, and natural strengths. I want to have that secret weapon- I can do this on my own. I don't like the uncertainty of having to trust a floatie in order to be successful. But in reality, the floatie I don't like depending on- is God. Not only do I judge myself, I judge others using the same criteria. I secretly fault or criticize those who are placed in positions I feel they are unqualified for, or unequipped to do. And you can imagine my disdain and anger, when others less qualified are placed where I want to be.
Looking back, I know why I was overlooked for so many opportunities- I wouldn't use the float.
The truth of the matter is, any HUMBLE follower of Christ has realized one truth. The float of God's grace is the only thing that seperates us from the rest of the world. Without it, we'd still be drowning.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have dove into projects and situations that I felt equipped to handle and then felt my strength quickly disappear. I have splashed and struggled, gurgled and choked on the water, arms flailing and legs kicking, struggling to get back to the shore. In some of those moments, I have heard a gentle voice speak, "Peace, Be still," as he draws me back into the boat. Sometimes I am afraid to get out of the boat, sometimes I am too stupid to stay there waiting for Him to tell me when to exit. He can speak "Peace" not only to the storms that come into our lives, but also to the ones we create all on our own ( the ones we dive headfirst into leaving the safety of His boat.)
On rare occasions, I have done projects and handled situations completely on my own and God has allowed my tired and wasted body to wash up on shore, rather than save me. He has left me there awhile to boast in my own hard fought battle- alone. I am alone not only becasue I did it without Christ, but because I alienated everyone else with my attitude and pride driven by my own agenda. Finishing the race alone, is not near as invigorating and fulfilling as winning the race with Christ by your side. There is no reward when you run alone, for Christ has the awards with Him, for those who run for Him, with Him, and because of Him.
I now, can picture God, looking to and fro for someone to send to save a lost and drowning world with the message of Jesus. He glances at world class divers, Navy Seal Commanders, Olympic Gold Medalist swimmers and then something catches His eye. He watches a little red-haired girl with freckles, goggles, and a hot pink inner tube, and says, "There she is." His ways truly confound the wise, and me- who is now off to shop for inner tubes in the plus size department.

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