One of my favourite images is the River of Life flowing from the Temple described in Ezekiel 47.
In a vision, the seer is shown the River getting progressively deeper: from ankle deep, to knee deep, to waist deep, to a River so deep no one could cross it.
There would seem to be a range of ways we can respond when we are offered the River of Life.
For some, we just want to paddle our toes in, get them a little wet, but come and go as we please.
Others might start to go in a little deeper, to explore and experience the River in a way that impacts a little more, but where we can still get out again if and when we want to.
However, there is also a place where we can jump right in, where the water is completely over our heads, where we "sink or swim", and maybe even allow the current to take us where it will.
Ever since I first "saw" it, this place of being in over my head has held a real attraction. The idea of giving myself over to God to the point of allowing Him to direct me and just "go with the flow" carried both excitement and caution in varying quantities. It presented a question:
Do I trust God enough to just jump in, no return?
While we might get used to the idea of being in deep, and even enjoy it, another question arises. It's all very well to enjoy floating down a slow moving, gentle river, but what happens when we hit the rapids, when there are submerged rocks or even looks to be a waterfall up ahead? Are we still happy to be in so deep, or do we start looking for a toe hold, or even try to get out?
Looking back at a period of my life where I felt as though I was in a whirlpool, rapidly being sucked under, I asked God where He was at that time. Although I had felt that I had been holding on to God through it, I had struggled to feel His presence or guidance in that place.
I was given a picture of a parent taking their child swimming. As the child is encouraged to "lie back, relax and float", some children go into panic and clutch their parent as though they are about to be drowned. Parents know they would never let go of their child, or leave them ,but the child doesn't understand this. They allow fear to overwhelm them.
God showed me that I had been like that child. At that time, I was clutching on to my Father, but I didn't really trust Him. I didn't have faith that He would not let me drown, even though I had experienced His goodness many times before. Rather than accepting that I was in the water, (that this was my life), I wanted Him to take me out of the River. I wanted Him to fix the problems and make the pain go away, rather than trusting Him to carry me through.
Although that experience is now far in the past, I have come to realise that at every new set of circumstances the question is asked again at a new and deeper level:
Do you trust Me?
When it seems as though nothing you do (praying, speaking, loving) is bringing about change, can you let go and trust Me, come what may?
I am coming to see that every time I feel as though I am in that deep River, and that it is far from friendly, that it is trying to drown me, my Father says, "Do you trust Me"?
And I have to answer yes and let go. Again.