From the book, Pause for Pastors: Finding Still Waters in the Storm of Ministry.
As I said goodbye to a congregation I dearly loved and pastored, and said yes to a new pastoral position, I wrote the article, “To Swim with Him” —-
The waves are racing toward us. Energy surges as the saltwater rises, falls, and pours itself toward the observers and participants. I am there. You are there. We are among those sensing the swell and awaiting the gush.
This isn’t a normal day on the coast. The flow is like never before.
We can back away and observe from a distance. We can avoid the possible danger of the ocean’s spill. We can let the warm shore become our home. And why shouldn’t we? We’ve heard the horror stories of damage and death. We would prefer to avoid the risk.
But, if we only observe the water, how can we really know what it’s like? Isn’t there a part of our inner world longing to engage and experience the current’s power?
There are times I’ve chosen to watch. To take pictures and make predictions. Those days are over. It is time to dive in, to risk the cost of the sea, to enter the world of water.
The powerful waves lure us away from our comfortable position. The salt covers us. The cold water cools us. The current refuses to allow us to control her.
And no, I’m not advising us about a trip to the local beach. I am dreaming of God’s Spiritual Experience. I am longing to swim with Him. The dangerous and delightful thrill of choosing to dive in gives us only one guarantee: He will not leave us or forsake us.
Swimming with the Ocean Maker doesn’t promise we shall return to the place we first felt the water. It doesn’t assure that pain will stay away. It doesn’t pledge to us that cuts and scrapes will never come our way. He only says, “I shall swim with you. As the water keeps you guessing and the waves send you into new parts of the sea, remember that I am there.”
I must go there. Not just to the water. In the water. Not just on the shore. In the waves.
As I say goodbye to the wonderful congregation of Evangel Assembly, I pray the church dives into new seas of prayer. And, because of our love for God and each other, we can swim together even from a distance. You can pray for me and my family. We can pray for you. Diving into intimate waters with God’s Spirit, miles do not separate us. They motivate us to practice the discipline of prayer and to experience the moving of God’s Waves.
Can you come? Not to Georgia with us, but to God: Can you come? The torrent is what you long to experience. The rush can reward you as moments trusting only your Protector.
Avoidance of His flow is simple and common and normal. But we’ve had enough of that. Today is the time to swim with Him. When we glance up from the wave of a new spiritual experience, life as we’ve known it will never return again.
Yes, the waves are racing. Yes, we are among those sensing the swell and awaiting the gush.
The flow is like never before.
Let us dive in.