Cliffs & Oceans: a devotional

Dear readers, it's been a while. Thank you for your views and comments on my blog over the time I was inactive, and also your encouragement to return. I have a few blogs prepped and ready to go, and plan to release them over the next several weeks. As a first-in-a-while post, I have a devotional that I penned in personal prayer time from about a year ago. I hope it blesses you. I called it, "Cliffs & Oceans". I hope you enjoy!

"Cliffs & Oceans"

I remember being a boy and learning to swim. My dad taught me in a pool in our backyard: an enclosed, controlled environment ... and that's all wrong.

It’s all wrong because swimming in pools is quite a different matter from swimming in an ocean. Indoor or outdoor pools have no currents, but oceans do. Oceans also have living, biological things in them: fish, algae, even sharks – entities I will never encounter in the safety of a pool. Mind you, pools are fun to swim in, but there is no danger around you. Also, there is no progress. These enclosed environments do not afford you any ability to go a great distance.

But the ocean does.

In oceans, you can traverse vast distances between shores: the liquid chasm between where you would be and where you are.

A stretched-out path of the watery unknown from here to there.

Even though you will always be safe in the pool, will you dare to venture? Make the journey in an open ocean? Brave the unknown: the creatures you’ll encounter? The eddies: the push-and-pull, up-and-down of the currents and waves? Will you swim in its vastness? Will you go?

Cliffs are a lot like oceans. To step over one means to go into that which you expect to end you. To leap to your death. Except that leap is exactly what parasailers, parachutists, hang-gliders, and diving board swimmers must do: LEAP off the edge of what is known, and carry with you the implements that bring you places that you'd never experience away from the cliff’s edge. Are you dying when you leap off that cliff, or are you entering an adventure of the diver, the sailor, the skydiver, and the glider? Is your journey stopping, or merely beginning?

Ocean-travelers do not actually swim: that’s not how they travel in the seas. The rules of the shallow waters of the pool do not translate into the large journeys of an ocean. For that, you need a vessel.

I sway my arms and paddle in a pool: that’s how I travel there. But in the ocean, I need a different thinking-process. I need to change my approach.

It *is* possible to swim across the English Channel from Britain to France, but that’s NOT how any reasonable person would do it: they’d want the SAFETY of a BOAT! The vessel is SAFETY from the currents and creatures of unruly waters.

Such a vessel is the vehicle of the ocean-traveler. The man who swims can travel alone, but he merely paddles and hopes never to encounter any of the creatures and predators of the great sea. The man in the vessel rarely if ever travels alone. The cost of travel is surely greater in the vessel, but it is the only way to traverse the vastness of the waters.

Today, I declare my need for the vessel: The Church; what so many hymns call "The Ship of Zion".  I can attempt to travel solo - swim by myself - but we all know the quiet truth that no ocean-traveler goes without a vessel. We need each other. We need the body of Christ. We need the services, the prayers, the songs, the sermons, the altars, the fellowship ... all of it. Today, I thank God for providing a Spiritual home for myself and every one of us. I am thankful for His people. I am thankful for the church.


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