I’m thinking about my desire to know God’s love for me on God’s terms, not mine. James Finley said in a recent webinar Through the Dark Night, that we long for a sense of union with God that we will experience only after death. But God says, “Why wait till then?”
Summarizing writings from John of the Cross, Finley said we hear three things from God. “First of all, this cannot happen until you die to the last trace of dependency on anything else for your security and identity. Second, you can’t do this. Your survival instinct is too strong and your efforts are finite. Third, you can count on Me to wean you off of finding love on your terms.”
Finley went on to use this illustration. It’s like we are in a boat moored in a slip at the harbour. God quietly sneaks out at night and, being careful not to laugh and wake us, unties one mooring line after another and until we are set adrift.
Twenty-six years ago Fred and I were sitting on a beach one evening watching the sunset. We had spent the day at several marinas looking at sailboats built for ocean passages. Were we crazy? Should we really be selling everything, leaving life as we know it to sail off around the world? I looked out at the darkening sky and listened to the waves crash onto the shore. My biggest fear was being offshore at night. In the darkness, the ocean seems colder, noises and fears bigger and louder.
But as you can see from the photo above, we went. We went because the pull in us to do it wouldn’t go away. And I had this crazy picture in my head of Jesus all excited, saying, “Let’s go. Come on. What are you waiting for?”
From 1992-95 our family lived on a 40-foot boat and travelled from Vancouver to Turkey, west around the world. And what do I miss most about our adventure? The serenity and beauty of being at sea in the middle of the night.
Being unmoored from all we hold onto and all that we think will give us life is scary and uncomfortable. But eventually, when we give up trying to refasten the lines that hold us back, we realize we are adrift in an ocean of love, held in the current of God.
For in Christ we live and move and have our being.
–Acts 17:28 (NIV)
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When we let go of our mooring lines with a seven and a ten-year-old as our crew, we needed to bring along lots of books to keep them happy. One of our favourites was Where the Sidewalk Ends. We laughed our heads off and, thanks to Shel Silverstein, we could imagine sitting on them. According to Bustle.com, “These eight lines [in ‘Listen to the Mustn’ts’] pretty much sum up everything that Shel Silverstein and his children’s poetry are about—throwing off conventionality and negativity, and embracing the power of imagination and possibility. It’s not just a great message for kids—it’s a great message for everyone.” Thank you, Shel, for sharing your love-mischief with the world.