Betty J. Slade
“Let us go on.” Paul sounded like a heretic when he explained to the Hebrews that they needed to go on. Some resisted. Why? Because people are too comfortable in the way it is. Change brings fear — fear we might become an oddity — so we stay in a safe place.
To paraphrase Paul, “You’ve laid the foundation, now it’s time to break out of your comfortable traditions of following the law and move in the Spirit of Jesus.”
He was unearthing the very ground his people had walked on for 2,000 years. He was pointing to the One whom they were to follow. Turning loose of what they knew and taking hold of the One they should know about — for them, it would be like jumping into the deep sea without a life jacket.
Some of us are there. We cry out for more of Jesus, to be filled to overflowing with his comforting love, and we want to experience a deepening friendship with the Holy Spirit. It’s like our heart flutters with his compassion.
“Deep calls unto deep.” These are familiar words from David. In Psalm 42:7-8 (TPT), he cries, “My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of your love. Your waterfall of weeping sent waves of sorrow over my soul, carrying me away, cascading over me like a thundering cataract … Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.”
I asked a pastor friend years ago how he was able to keep his ministry alive and fresh. He said, “It’s like surfing. You catch the first wave and you ride it until the next wave comes in. Then you catch the next wave and ride it. If you don’t, you will find yourself beached and back on shore.”
Catching the wave is not like looking for the next fad, the next big idea, or some program that other churches are doing and seems to be working for them. To keep in touch with heaven’s calling on our lives, we must take hold of the true source, Jesus, the head of the body.
Paul was telling his people all those traditions have been laid. Good stuff, but now it’s time to let go of the shoreline and move into deeper waters.
It’s like putting a toe in ankle-deep water, then standing waist-deep, then up to our necks. The water will overtake us. Unable to touch the bottom, we float with no ground to support us. Only the hand of God will hold us up. That’s when our faith in a higher power takes over and we are able to move out into deeper waters.
It’s not easy to do. It’s easier to hold to the ground we stand on and be beached. It takes courage to move in faith where there is no earthly support. Only holding to the promises of God, we’ll find we become that living hope for others.
I’ve been in dead churches. I’ve been in living churches. I’ve created dead works. I’ve created living works. I know the difference. The difference is in the heart, humbling oneself, becoming dependent only on Jesus and trusting him to keep us afloat in raging seas.
Forty years ago, I came to a crossroad. I had to make a decision to follow the organized church or follow Him. At the time, it sounded like heresy. I was too scared to think on my own. I didn’t have a thought outside of someone in the pulpit telling me how and what I should believe. So, I planted my feet into the dirt and I dug my heels into religion for another 20 years.
God was calling me into uncharted waters. To take this plunge, there was no map, no plan, only Christ who lived in me.
Final brushstroke: People need to see living hope in us. We are all in the same boat. There is such uncertainty around us today. We are all floundering in deep water. We need to trust the Spirit of the Living God who lives in us to show us how to keep afloat in the days ahead. It might be time to turn loose of the known and, like Paul said, “Let us go on.” Jump into the water and let the Holy Spirit carry us. Hold on to Jesus, wear his life jacket and catch the next wave. It might mean our survival.