Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Going Deeper

A SCUBA dive has three parts: descent, bottom time, ascent.

Descent begins as soon as the diver touches the surface of the water.  Most of my descents leave me shivering.  Starting new things can be uncomfortable. Remembering "why" helps me endure discomfort.  The start of my sabbatical was uncomfortable.

Image result for black people scuba divingThe idea of taking 6 weeks off to read, write, pray and rest challenged my worldview.  What if someone finds out what I'm doing?  What will they think of me?  Can we afford for me to stop working? Am I lazy?  Am I wasting my life by doing nothing?  Sitting with questions is difficult.  Answers to questions aren't found at surface level; we have to dive deeply.

SCUBA is a deep diving exploration of an unseen world.  Placid surfaces and rhythmic waves belie complexities below.  I am a diver because underwater scenery haunts me.  I blog because my questions haunt me.  Enduring each descent is easier when I remember why I dive.

Image result for scuba entering waterI dive to escape; to disconnect; to see more; to glide between earth and sky.  I dive for the bottom time: the part of the dive when the diver's head goes under the water.  Plants, animals and vistas come into focus during bottom time.  Without changing latitude and longitude, divers enter a parallel universe.  Think Dr. Strange. 

Sabbath is a parallel universe.  Without geographic changes, I entered a world of permissive indulgence.  I napped, read War and Peace and gained 10% of my body weight.  I worshiped, played with our children and explored aromatherapy.  I golfed, journaled and walked in the mall with my wife.  No phone, no calendar, no place I had to be.  Prayer walks, tea, blankets and a fireplace gobbled up days and nights.  I didn't want to stop.

SCUBA dives reveal such beauty, divers don't want to stop.  Staying on a dive too long is lethal, and staying on a perpetual sabbatical has consequences. During my sabbatical I earned my SCUBA license.  I learned the ascent begins when the diver returns to the surface of the water.  Ending beautiful things can be uncomfortable.
Image result for thinking next to water
I ended nine years of ministry before the sabbatical.  Staying in a pastorate too long has consequences.  Timely ascent is good for us, no matter how beautiful the scenery.  The view from a pastoral chair is very nice but ministers are running out of air everyday.  I was running out of air in my dream job of pastoral ministry.

The Lord ministered to me by reminding me that Sabbath is a gift.  When I don't take the gift, it's often because idols of self-sufficiency rule my heart.  Sitting with questions helps.  Will they make it if I don't show up?  Will it work if I don't do my part?  Who am I if I'm not contributing?  I ignored Sabbath because I didn't trust God to run the world while I was gone.

Underwater exploration reminded me that, like the ocean, Christ was running His Church long before I became a pastor.  Diving humbled me because I was allowed to visit; to sample beauty.  Sabbath humbled me because I was allowed to discover; to taste and see that God running things really is good.  Work humbled me because I was allowed to participate; to present stumbling efforts to Christ the King.

By descending, exploring and exiting SCUBA dives, I saw the beauty of the Lord of the Sabbath.  

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