I used to have a pool in my back yard. Well, it wasn’t my pool, per se. My mom and I lived in an apartment that just so happened to have a community pool, and this community pool just so happened to be right behind our humble, two-bedroom abode. So in this sense, I guess it was sort of my pool. Anyway, I swam in this pool every day the summer after eighth grade. I became, at least in my own estimation, a great swimmer. I could tread for what seemed like days, and I could hold my breath for what seemed like hours. I cut through the water like a hot knife through butter, with perfect form and impeccable technique. I dreamed of Olympic gold some day.
Then one summer day I went with some friends to Capitola Beach in Santa Cruz. As I looked out at the sea that day, I was ready to conquer. I breathed deep and jumped in. Then it happened. My dreams were shattered. The ocean took me and consumed me. No matter how hard I swam, I felt like I was going nowhere. I was stuck in the torrents of the sea, and the reality that I was not a great swimmer began to sink in deeper and deeper with every useless stroke. There is a world of difference between the pool and the sea.
My church reminds me of my summer swimming pool sometimes. It’s easy to jump in and knife through it with expertise. I know what to say, what to do, what to wear, what to look like, smell like, be like. Church is my profession, and I am most definitely a professional. For the most part, it’s pretty safe there.
But safe isn’t always the best, is it? Safe can get tired and old. Safe gets stale very quickly. Safe can make us cringe. Safe can make us apathetic. Jesus wasn’t safe. Jesus broke the rules and brought new life in more ways than one. But Jesus was refreshing. Jesus is refreshing. He is revolutionary. He is the rescue from the apathy of safety. Jesus is Capitola beach.
We breathe deep and jump into Him, and before we know it, we’re drowning. We’re drowning in grace, mercy, love, fire, passion and majesty. No matter how hard we flail our arms around in useless motion, we go nowhere other than where the waves take us. Where He takes us. And in that moment, our dreams are shattered. We realize we are not great swimmers and that we have no choice but to submit to the sea. It’s beautiful and treacherous all at the same time. It’s dangerous, but it’s the best place to be.
Here’s a strange thought —if you’ve ever really swum in the sea of the sacred, you’ll understand this: there are people who don’t know Jesus swimming in this sea all the time. It’s weird. A bunch of us “radical” Christians are waddling in the shallow end of the kiddie pool while hell-bound folks all around us are drowning in the sea of the sacred without even knowing it.
The other day, I saw Brad Pitt’s picture on an ad for the ONE campaign. Most of you know this, but the ONE campaign is designed to eradicate poverty around the world. Something tells me that Brad Pitt’s involvement in this campaign has nothing to do with a deep, passionate love for Jesus Christ. But it has everything to do with Jesus.
Brad Pitt may have no idea of this. He may have no idea that his deep desire to see poverty’s end in his lifetime is God’s desire. He may have no idea that his love and compassion for the poor is God’s love and compassion. He may not realize that the reason he gets choked up and has a hard time breathing when holding a starving baby in his arms is because he’s drowning. He’s drowning in the sea of the sacred. Yes, as you swim in the sea of the sacred, there’s Brad Pitt swimming next to you. You and I are lucky enough to know what’s going on, but he may not.
So there are two questions to pose here. Will you breathe deep and jump into the sea of the sacred? And will you tell those around you, drowning in the sea, what they’re drowning in? Your life is about this. My life is about this. Swim away, my friends… swim away.