I love to feel the ocean lapping at my feet; to soak away stress in a hot tub. I like to plunge into a lake on a hot summer day and cool off. But I admit I get a little nervous if there’s much of a current or in over my head. I’ve learned to respect and fear the power of water from nearly drowning a time or two. So I tend to limit my swimming to the shallow end of the pool and places where I can maintain control.
That’s why this portion of Ezekiel 47 challenges me:
“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple…then [he] led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross” (Ezek. 47:1, 3-5).
The man mentioned is an angel showing Ezekiel things to come in heaven. The River, coming from the temple, is spoken of again in Revelation. I’ll talk more about that in my next post on The River. This chapter from Ezekiel is so rich and complex. I don’t understand it all, but it has kept drawing me back four days in a row now.
Every time I read it, I feel the Spirit of God calling me to go deeper. I must pause and ask myself which group I want to be in.
Dabblers are the people who only get in the water of God’s Spirit up to their ankles. They want to experience its cool refreshment, tingling between their toes. This might be at a Christmas or Easter service, or listening to Christian radio on occasion. These people believe that God exists, and they enjoy the warm feelings they get when they encounter God-stuff. However, by going only ankle deep, they still maintain control over when they come into His presence and when they leave.
The Waders want more. They get up to their knees. This might include discussions about God, attending Christian concerts, occasional church attendance, or TV preachers. Waders enjoy experiencing more of God’s living water, splashing joyfully in His refreshing presence. But they are still in complete control over their lives. God does not direct their decisions and movements; they’re not that deep yet.
Venturers sample the water of God up to their waist. They’re halfway in. They often pursue small groups or Bible studies; they might talk freely about God and scripture, even insist that God, our Creator, loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. They enjoy the sway of the water and often feel the pull of the current. They even allow the current of the Spirit to take them where God desires - until there is a cost – being different than the world, rejection, sacrifice. That’s when they plant their feet firmly on the river floor and fight for control.
Finally, there are the swimmers – the group I want to be in. I long for and fear this, because it requires full commitment. The scripture describes the river as deep enough to swim in. The swimmer is buoyed by the water’s power, completely free from gravity’s pull. But it also says no one can cross it. Those who plunge into the River of God must fully surrender to the flow of His will, allowing Him to take them when and where He wants them to. Swimming doesn’t depend on whether or not a person believes in God, talks about God, or attends church regularly. It hinges on a relationship of trust and obedience to God’s lordship.
Where are you in relation to the River? Are you on the bank wondering if you want to get in? Testing the waters, ankle or knee deep? Have you ventured halfway in and yearn to go deeper? I encourage you as well as myself to take the plunge. Dive in to the powerful, sustaining life of the Spirit. Swim out where you can’t touch bottom and discover the adventure God has for you.
#morethankneedeep #fearofdrowning #trustenoughtoswim #Ezekiel47 #ankledeep #committoswim #diveintotheriver