God as Ocean

One of my favorite images for God has been the Ocean.  Vast and mysterious, beautiful and powerful, it is not subject to our understanding or control, but invites our awe and exploration.  At times, I have felt the Ocean hold me up; I could just turn over and float over the gentle undulations, trusting it would take me where I needed to go.  At other times, I have felt it crash on me with such brute force and toss me every which way that I wasn’t sure if, when, or how I would resurface. Eventually it would spit me out again on the shore, exhausted and humbled, but oddly grateful.

I have always liked the story in Luke’s gospel where Jesus, when calling his first disciples, tells Simon Peter to put out into the deep water to let down their nets for a catch.  I have interpreted that to mean there is more to be found in the depths than in the shallows.  And I hear it as a holy summons to dive in.  Don’t eddy out in small talk; wade into depth conversation.  Don’t settle for surface relationships; get to know yourself and others deeply.  Don’t just splash around in the shallows of life and God; plumb the depths.

You know how when you first walk into the ocean it can be hard to stay on your feet, not get splashed in the face or knocked around by the breaking waves?  Sometimes, a giant swell will take you down and you lose your bearings.  But then if you keep on walking, or better yet, you lean in and start to swim, you get to that place where you just float over the waves.  And if you sink down deep enough, the ocean will hold you in a quiet, gentle rocking rhythm, even if there’s tumult on the surface.  You just have to get out there far enough and sink deep enough.

I believe life with God is like that.  I hope you’re diving in.