by Kenny Rader
Each of us has our favorite times of the year, and for me, I love spring and summer. Spring means new growth. It brings green grass, budding trees, and flowers – lots and lots of beautiful flowers. It also means that I get to plant the garden and enjoy new growth and life, not only to eat healthy, but I even get to enjoy the various sunflowers and all the varying colors of zinnias that I’ve planted later in the summer. This spring is a little unique because a bird (it looks like a wren to me) has taken up nesting in my garage and now has a few tiny baby birds in her nest. But I’ve also encountered two garter snakes in my backyard, plus lots and lots of birds at my feeders. I just love spring.
But I love summer too. Mainly because it allows me to get outside and enjoy the various activities of walking, running, and biking. Plus, as stated last month, I used to enjoy lots of fishing. I’ll take the heat of summer over the frigid temperatures of winter any time.
One of the summer activities we enjoyed as a family on the farm was when my wife’s parents owned a small boat. When I say small, I mean small. The engine had just enough power to pull one skier, but we had loads of fun on Indian Lake. Since we farmed, we avoided the weekend crowds on the lake, and because of our inexperience, we certainly needed the wide open space of the empty ski zone during the week.
The point of skiing is to get above the surface of the lake and stay there, which was challenging to learn and often took several tries. Skiing is about getting on the surface and staying there. But it’s only skimming the top of the lake. Water skiing is not going deep. What lies below the surface? Sounds like a title for a great novel, doesn’t it?
Maybe Jaws! You see, that’s my point. While the surface of the lake is pretty – even beautiful at times, it’s what lies below the surface that holds the adventures and mysteries of the lake. While Indian Lake may not contain many mysteries beneath its surface, I’m confident it is more fascinating than we think.
What’s beneath the surface? Well, let’s name a few things: fish, crawfish, snakes, turtles, snails, all kinds of water plants, insects, eggs, bacteria, worms, shoes, swim trunks (oops, someone went skinny dipping), glasses, cell phones, trees, tree stumps, branches, and possibly even a dead body or two. Hey, who knows what lies beneath the surface?
Just think of the beauty of the ocean. While I’ve never snorkeled, my brother and his family lived in the Virgin Islands for a few years, and they loved snorkeling. The beauty and treasures they found in the shallow water were astonishing. Just think of the treasures one might discover scuba diving to deeper waters.
Church is much like a large body of water. We have a lot of fun skimming the surface. We gather on Sunday mornings; we have carry-in meals; there are game nights; ball games; we eat out together; connection groups; special events; and special holiday services. These are all great times to come together, worship, and have fun, but these are all surface-skimming events. They are much like skiing on a lake. While it’s a lot of fun and has value, it still misses what lies beneath the surface.
Going deep in our relationship with Jesus and church activities is much like preparing to dive into the water for the first time. You’re a little hesitant and maybe even a little afraid. You think, “Will everyone laugh at my struggles? Will they expect me to know more than I actually do? Will I make a fool of myself? Will everyone expect more out of me if I go deeper?” The answer to every one of those questions is a possible, “Yes.” But what does it mean to go deeper? It involves several things.
Going deeper means the common ideals of the Christian life that we always think about: Bible reading, Bible study in some manner, correcting bad aspects of our lives, becoming more like Christ than in the past, eventually teaching or mentoring someone, and becoming a man or woman of faith. It means not only faithfully giving at least 10% of our gross income (before taxes) to the church, but it also means giving above that amount at times. It means getting involved at church and with others outside the church. It means actively being Jesus to all we meet – not just acting in kindness and treating them well. It means going out of our way to be Jesus. It means stepping out in faith to do something bold for Christ that you know you cannot do on your own. While these are only a few items on the list, I’m confident you can name more.
Like diving into a body of water, where you indeed go under and get your head wet (and the rest of your body if you dive the correct way), you certainly don’t go scuba diving on the first attempt of going under the water. No! It’s a process. We learn to dive, and then we learn to go a little deeper. Before we learn to scuba dive into the depths, we gradually work our way a little deeper. Like I said, it’s a process.
Many churches, including RCC, have a problem of not wanting to go deep in aspects of their Christian life. Every one of us has areas of our spiritual lives that we would rather stay on top skiing rather than going deep. That describes me too. For example, many people like to read the Bible, teach the Bible, or even be in leadership, but there are certain areas that we don’t want to go deep. But going deep means we have to go under sometimes way under, finding ourselves with arms flailing and screaming for help. But don’t fear! God understands, and He will not let us drown – not if we plan our action, prepare for the step of faith, and trust God. Trusting God. We are weak on that one – very weak when it comes to stepping out in faith.
Think on the following statement. How much easier it is to stand on what we know, regardless of how unfulfilling, than to move into the unknown! Let me repeat that. How much easier it is to stand on what we know, regardless of how unfulfilling, than to move into the unknown! Contemplate on that statement for a bit before reading on. It’s much easier to do nothing more than we are already doing because we are comfortable, and because it is easy. Oh the sadness of that statement. Oh the wretched state of churches because so many Christians refuse to step out boldly in faith.
Read Matthew 14:22-33. It’s the passage of Peter walking on water. How does that account begin? Jesus made His disciples get into a boat. Did you notice that Jesus made them get into the boat and go out on the lake. Why didn’t the disciples want to go? Because some were fishermen and they knew the hazardous sea in store for them. But what happened later in the night? Jesus came to them walking on the water and then Peter walked on the water. While the other disciples sat in the boat, Peter took a bold step of faith and walked on the water. Peter’s action demonstrated his willingness to go deep and have faith in Jesus.
There is a vast expanse to explore if we will only go deep. Unless we have faith and go deep, we will miss many beautiful sights, wonderful experiences, and unknown possibilities. We must go deep, or we will never see them. We will never fully experience what God has in store for us if we don’t go deep.
Let’s get moving. Let’s see what we can become if we only trust God. Sure, skiing on the surface is fun, but we are missing out on so much. God is ready to give us so much more if we only trust Him and make the dive. Are you prepared to go deep? I can’t do it for you. The easiest way is to take the plunge. Let’s go deep.
Love you & God Bless,