How do you get into the water? Dive in? Wade in until you’re ready to get all wet and then plunge? Stand at the edge and let the water lap up to your ankles? There are many different ways to test the waters. The issue with water is do you actually get in and swim? Or are you perpetually standing at the water’s edge torn between stepping into the unknown and keeping yourself comfortable and dry?
The spiritual journey is like the water: unknown territory until you are well into. Finding your footing in the water is like trying out spiritual practices until you find a combination that really resonates with you. Sometimes you will need some extra help to travel under the surface, like snorkeling gear, or scuba gear, if you are ready for the depths.
The way can seem murky, unclear. You can have difficulty seeing what’s coming. The journey can be dangerous if you go too far without the proper equipment/training/practices. Sometimes it is hard to judge what’s good and what’s not. Like the waters the journey has its challenges and dangers.
It is no wonder that many of us find ourselves standing at the edge wanting to proceed, but not having the will to plunge in. We think that we have taken the next step, but we are so cautious that we are still just testing the waters. There are many things that keep us at the edge, afraid to dive in. We don’t trust ourselves and we don’t have enough faith in God to live as Jesus taught. We don’t have time to spend in prayer/meditation/communion with the Divine One. Our culture supports testing the waters, but not the commitment to allow God to change our lives.
Jesus modeled several things: first, a commitment to God to teach what he knew; second, healing and restoring others to their rightful place in the kingdom; third, enjoying friends, disciples, people on the fringes of life; fourth, celebrating, letting go of fear and anxiety; and fifth, being true to God and his mission no matter what. He was not standing at the edge of the water gathering the courage to enter. He knew his Father intimately, he trusted him implicitly, and he did not hesitate to do what he had been asked to do.
How can we come to the same assurance that Jesus modeled? By spending time with God alone until we have that same faith. By listening to God for what he calls us to do. By our own dedication to carrying out that call as best we can. By leaning on God for strength and courage and whatever else we need to be true to him. Then we will not find ourselves on the edge of the waters of life, waiting until we feel enough comfort to proceed. We will be diving in, faith and courage ours by the grace of God.