Monday, January 2, 2012

Launch Out

I loved to watch the Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show when I was a child.  I still like to watch it.  (Shhhh...)

One cartoon that comes to mind is when Sylvester is trying to get Tweety who (for some reason) is in his cage out on a post in the harbour.  He takes a motor boat and heads in the direction of his prize.  But alas! the boat is still tied to the pier.  The boat stops suddenly, falls apart, and Sylvester skids ahead on the water, falling prey to cartoon gravity only after he stops moving and gives one of those "help me" looks, sinking beneath the water as the sharks circle him.  

My best friend and I were talking one morning this week about how some folks tend to have a difficult time letting go of the way they've always done things, of attitudes they have had for years, in order to go deeper into relationship with God.  And in one of those "God-moments" where God steps into a situation and provides perfect clarity, my friend said, "Yeah, well, it's kind of hard to let go when you're so busy holding on tight."  

Indeed. It's hard to get where you want to go if you're still tied to what you thought you left behind.  Like poor Sylvester and his rope.

There is a scene in the gospels where Jesus was teaching large crowds from a boat, and then the teaching was done and the crowds dwindled away.  Jesus turned to the disciples who were there and said, "Launch out into deeper water, and let your nets down for a catch."  

There may have been some fish in the shallows that their nets would have caught. And they could have been satisfied with those and with the fact that Jesus was in the boat.  But He wasn't asking them to just catch fish.  He was asking them to go out into something they couldn't fathom - with Him - at a time of day they didn't normally do that sort of thing. (The fish would be closer to the surface at night, "easy pickings." This was the middle of the day.)  And He was asking them to trust and obey Him in the deeper waters with something they already thought they knew how to do.  

This is important. There is always MORE to God, there is always more IN Him: new depths we can't begin to understand, new heights we are unable to perceive.  If we look, if we really search and want to find, there are ever so many facets, layers, levels to Him - we'll never come to an end of discovering more of His heart for us.  Mining those riches all starts with doing something very dangerous to the status quo.  It starts with asking Him what He wants to say to us, and giving Him carte blanche to put His finger on things that might not be all that comfortable for us to face.  To challenge the way we've always done something because we think we already know how to do it - after all, we've been doing it this way for ages (like oh, I don't know, perhaps our own version of what it means to be Christian, which - to many people - means sitting around being RIGHT and nit-picking and judging those who dare disagree in the slightest).  To realize that we can't do anything on our own, that only He can.  To lose a whole ship-load of arrogance and to learn a little humility. To understand that He is God and we are not.  And to learn that we don't have a corner on the God-market.  He is ever so much bigger, deeper, higher than we ever thought possible. His grace has ever so much more room in it than our puny minds can fathom.  It is limitless - infinite - as infinite as He is. 

Launching out into the deep, losing our prejudices and bigotry, relying on Him and accepting and loving each other - can we see how a watching world could begin to say, instead of "What a bunch of haters, look at them devouring each other, guess their belief in God just makes them into a bunch of cannibals..." to say, "Look at how they love and care for each other, how they accept each other and help each other up when they fall. What a God they must serve to lead them to treat each other with that kind of respect!" 

Perhaps it takes launching out in vim and gusto with the rope still attached to the pier of our religious trappings and our self-righteousness - and suddenly finding ourselves in the water with the sharks circling - before we can get to that point of realizing how much we need Him. 

What if we stopped playing church? What if we stopped asking or expecting other people in the church, in our families, and among our circle of friends to meet the deep needs of our spirits that only God can meet?  What if we started admitting our own helplessness and asking HIM to fill the void in us with Himself?  to show us His heart for people, even the people we find "challenging"?  to treat them the way He does - with mercy, acceptance, and love?  to shed our spirit of entitlement and begin instead to be thankful for that limitless grace and extend it to others because He did it for us and we could do no less?

I wonder.

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