by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @LoriSRoeleveld
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was no lover of deep water.
From eight to eighteen, I spent significant portions of my summer at a Christian camp, first as a camper and eventually as staff. Campers were barred from the deep end of the swimming area unless they could pass the swim test – three laps the length of the docks. For most campers, it was not a strenuous swimming challenge. For me, it was the English Channel. I was a chubby, non-swimmer, usually outfitted with a skirted swimsuit. Still, I coveted access to the deep end.
Every summer I would screw my courage to the sticking place and make the long walk to the far end of the dock. Plugging my nose and hyperventilating in anticipation of the effort and humiliation, I would jump in and begin my quest.
By my third summer, Harold the lifeguard would extend the rescue pole over my head the moment I made my initial plunge. Near the middle of the second lap, I would grasp at the pole sputtering and gasping like a kitten emerging from a pail of water. I was well into adolescence before I achieved admission to the deep end. But the most I ever did with the privilege was tread water before lying on the far dock to tan.
Looking back, what strikes me is that as badly as I wanted to swim in the deep end, and as much as I dreaded the yearly humiliation, I never did anything that would help me achieve my goal.
I didn’t request guidance. I didn’t take lessons. I didn’t practice in the shallow end. Nothing. I just expected every year that somehow, magically, I would eventually be able to pass. Eventually, I did, but it was a lame, straggling pass, and I’ve never enjoyed the deep water, nor progress as a swimmer beyond that point.
That’s how many of us approach our spiritual lives.
We long to swim in the deep end of faith. We know there will be testing to merit that privilege. But too often we spurn counsel, effort, teaching and training. Yet, we expect that we will somehow, magically, be able to pass the test of faith and gain admission to spiritual deep water. When God extends His rescue pole and fishes us out – exhausted and floundering – He shakes His head – like Harold the lifeguard.
At times when we do manage to reach deep water, we feel lost and out of our element. We don’t know how to really process the experience, and the most we manage is to tread water before heading back to shallow water near the familiar shore.
There is nothing we can add to the sacrifice of Christ to earn eternal life with God. But we can put effort into pursuing those qualities that equip us and keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our faith. Peter provides guidance, but we must invest the effort to applying it.
I long to spend my life in the deep end, not just to arrive there but to be adept there, at home and able to support the efforts of others who venture out that far.
About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
Join the conversation: What efforts do you make to deepen your faith to avoid spending life in the shallow end of God’s great adventure?