Learning To Wade In the Water (5 of 8)

It is really no surprise to me why Allstate’s advertising campaign personifying mayhem has been so successful. As it is with all humor, there must be a universally relatable truth being satired, before everyone gets the joke. And let’s face it, on some level, on some back burner in our heads, we entertain some measure of dread, that chaos (mayhem) will leap out and begin dissembling the order we are so carefully attempting to maintain in our life. After all, creating order out of chaos is one of life’s grand themes residing in the subtext of everything we are and everything we do . . . even if all we can do is laugh at commercials reminding us all of just how implausible the task.

Within the first two verses of the Bible, the creation narrative sets the stage with a powerful metaphor about water. The void and the darkness over the face of the deep, is immediately juxtaposed with the presence of God hovering over those same waters. So that by the sixth verse we find him dividing those waters, bringing order out of chaos. And for the ancient world, this was no small matter, because the face of the deep was a menacing and foreboding image, a vast unknown portending a terrible undoing.

So by the time Noah’s story is told a few chapters later, the idea of those very same waters, once divided by God, now coming back together, carries with it far more than just the calamity associated with a flood – it was God allowing the chaos to overtake the order of the world. That in fact, it has been the hand of God, all along, that has held those waters apart, so that we might have a place to live. So when this particular  image reoccurs, at the Red Sea, and and again as Israel crosses the Jordan – we begin to fully appreciate the pattern of just how it is that God makes a way for us, where there is no way.

__Shell___by_masscreationNow, consider the sacrament of baptism — where we find ourselves invited to enter the waters, so that we might understand ourselves as having died with Christ and raised to new life. We break the surface twice, entering into death (chaos) and then the waters part, as we rise again to new life. This is the way of Christ, a pattern of willingness to enter into death, so that a life of reconciliation and redemption can occur.

Paul explains this pattern in 2 Corinthians 5: 17-20 — having become a new creation, we as Christ’s ambassadors, must be willing to wade into the water, that is the chaos and brokenness of our world, so that we might reconcile others to life in Christ. For it was Jesus, the incarnate God, who came where death prevailed, so that he might once and forever part the waters of chaos (death) – so now we wade into the waters, to go where death once held sway . . . so that Jesus might make his appeal through us — bringing new life in his wake.


One of my all time favorite gospel spirituals — this is a great rendition . . .

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Learning To Trim Your Sail (4 of 8)

Force = Mass x Acceleration . . . is a formula illustrating Newton’s 2nd law of motion – describing how inertia is overcome. It turns out, the greater the mass, the more force is required to achieve acceleration – who knew? Makes me wonder if the same law that applies to getting physically unstuck (F=ma) would apply to being metaphorically stuck – because I think we can all relate to feeling stuck . . . in ways we can’t even put our finger on.

Feeling stuck may seem to you like a lack of motivation, or a matter of procrastination, or even as a result of exhaustion – but all of these strike me as far more symptomatic of being stuck, than causal. Spinning your wheels going nowhere can leave you exhausted. And a lack of motivation and procrastination are derivative of being incapable of imagining how not being stuck might look — because sometimes you’ve been an object at rest for so long, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be in motion . . . or could it be because the last time you were in motion – it didn’t go so well.

More often than not, most people end up stuck because it was the last place they took refuge from life’s howling winds and troubled waters. They didn’t plan to stay — but here they are all the same . . . stuck. And here’s the thing about being stuck – it drains you of all expectation. This may strike you as antithetical, because if a hyper state of routine is what it means to be stuck – then what’s not to expect? . . . it’s all been done before. But having hopeful expectation isn’t about predictability – rather, it’s about believing that something new could happen.

boat-oil-painting-60542It is this very lack of hopeful expectation that holds you land-locked. So maybe it’s time you tested the wind again and checked the horizon for unexpected opportunities — so that you might know yourself as free to live your own life again. Maybe it’s time you learned how to trim your sails. Because it isn’t really about throwing up a sail and letting the wind blow you all over the water. In the hands of a skilled sailor, the sails are deployed in such a way as to channel the force of the wind with precision . . . and usually that occurs at a pretty fair clip.

Sometimes we fall into thinking that God wants us to play it safe, until we end up like the servant who was given one talent and ended up burying it (Matthew 25: 18), convincing ourselves that God wouldn’t want us being too risky with what he had given us. Or we assume he is asking us to generate our own momentum to break inertia, when we already feel so stretched out and pulled thin . . . how could we possibly take on more? But in fact, he is inviting us to unfurl our sails . . . and he will fill them. It is an invitation to live your whole life, that you might see what he can do through you. There’s no telling where he’ll take you next . . . and it’s the not knowing, that keeps you from getting stuck.


This has always been one of my favorite Bruce Cockburn songs