Thursday, January 16, 2014

Breathing Underwater and the Abundant Life

During my first Scuba diving lesson, my mind flew into a panic.

I had put on the mask, was fitted with a regulator, and attached it to the tank of air. I had practiced this thoroughly. All systems were a go, and I gave the OK sign to the instructor. Then I lowered myself into the pool, and allowed myself to slip under the water. And that's when my mind panicked.

The instructor had told me to take a deep breath, via the regulator. Breathe in, breathe out. Simple, right? But my mind was screaming, "NO! You are under water! You CANNOT breath underwater!"

Everything about Scuba is counter-intuitive. Breathing underwater. Forcing your body to relax, when all your muscles want to tense up. Allowing yourself to slowly sink into "neutral buoyancy" while fighting the urge to kick. Calmly blowing bubbles when your lungs are screaming "we have no air in here!" Not wildly pointing at the barracuda that's right behind your scuba buddy. (Apparently that's bad form. They bite.) Did I mention breathing? Underwater!?

However, once I relaxed and ignored my mind's sense of panic, scuba diving was the most incredible experience! Diving a coral wall 50' under the turquoise Caribbean off the shore of Honduras, I saw thousands of fish, decked out in every imaginable color! There were towering coral in shades of pink, purple, orange and red; a 5' sting ray that was "hiding" under the sand, tiny yellow tangs that swam up to my mask to see what this giant creature might be; a variety of sea snails and nudibranchs, and yes, barracuda. The sheer variety and color of the creatures blew me away!

It occurred to me that God is the consummate artist.

It also occurred to me that the spiritual life is very much like scuba diving. It's counter-intuitive. Giving complete control of my life over to God was probably one of the scariest things I've ever done! Every fiber of my (very human) being was screaming, "No! You are supposed to control your own life!" yet my soul calmly surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus pointed out repeatedly to his followers that the spiritual life is counter-intuitive. It just doesn't make sense to a person who isn't spiritual! Jesus said,  "The last will be first, and the first will be last." (Matt. 20:16)  and  "Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25) 

And yet, just like the reward of scuba diving, the reward of a life surrendered to God is incredibly vibrant, surprising and very colorful!  

Jesus reminds us, " I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly."  (John 10:10)