I am facedown in the water. My hands are firmly placed on the cement bottom of the kiddie pool, body prone, floating across the water. It’s one of my earliest memories. I am trying to learn to swim, pulling my hands off the bottom for just a split second, too scared to take the leap of faith and float.
Today is different. This is the day I intend to really float. I pull my hands off the bottom, shoot them forward, and “fly” through the water like Superman. I am doing it!
At five years old, I am finally experiencing the joy of floating in water. When I lift my face and stand up, there is a smile on my face. “Mom!” I holler, “I floated!” I beam as she celebrates this accomplishment with me.
Through the years, I have always taken to water. Bath time was a joy, as was playing in the pool at an early age. Camping near lakes and rivers provided many adventures with family and friends. Spending summers at a Girl Scout Camp on a lake allowed me to experience canoeing, sailing and swimming.
While my friends were flipping burgers or working as store clerks, I was lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. Then there were the numerous times I ran or walked or stomped puddles in the rain.
When my soul needs respite, I find solace along the shore. Water lapping the rocks. Skipping stones on the smooth surface. Boats bobbing and swaying in the harbor. My spirit renews when I am near water.
Some of my favorite Bible stories involve water. God saved Moses and the Israelites through water. This was done by parting the Red Sea when Pharaoh's soldiers pursued them, so the people could safely make it across. (See Exodus 14)
The Prophet Isaiah told of how God would be with the people through all kinds of hardships, including water and fire. (See Isaiah 43:2) Numerous passages talk of God quenching the parched land; quenching parched people.
Jesus regularly used water to teach the disciples about His ministry and the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ first miracle (and my favorite one) was at the wedding of friends in Cana. The groom ran out of wine, which was a social travesty. Jesus instructed the servants to take the six stone jars and fill them with water. When they ladled out some liquid, it was no longer water, but the finest of wines. (See John 2: 1-11)
Many times, Jesus taught on or near water. He even called some disciples from their fishing jobs. But not before providing an abundant catch of fish in their nets. It was in the Jordan River where John the Baptizer baptized Jesus. When He came out of the water, a voice from heaven proudly named Jesus as God’s Son. The mark of God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the water that day.
In my own baptism, at the age of 14, I remember feeling God’s love as I was marked as one of God’s own. There were two of us that day, the Sunday before our confirmation. We were asked to make our profession of faith in front of the whole congregation. While I did not feel comfortable about all the attention, I was delighted to receive the water on my head. Glad of company on this important day.
There is healing in water. Babies grow and develop in the Mother’s womb, filled with life-giving water. Baptism is the Life-Giving water of Jesus the Christ, offered to us for the small price of saying, “Yes,” to a life of love and devotion to God. No strings attached. Just a “Yes!”
It’s amazing to think about such a gift from God. It is the same gift that Jesus offered to the woman whom He met at the well, all by herself, in the heat of the day. She wanted to draw water for Jesus. Instead he offered her Life-Giving Water that would NEVER dry up. Water that would cleanse her sins. Water that would set her on a path toward wholeness like she had never known.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
I am still taken to water. The summer days kayaking on a pristine lake melt away the stress in my life. And I meet God there, paddling and talking to my Friend, the one who is always near. This connection with God is life-giving for me. It refreshes and sustains me into the challenges that lay ahead.
I invite you to read the scripture references above and see how God refreshes, redeems and renews using water. Then, take some time to sit by a lake, river or pond. Notice the ripples, the current, the wildlife that are near. Let it wash over and renew you.
Creator God, help me to continue to see You in the beauty of creation. Renew my spirit and guide me in my days and nights. Help me to take the leap of faith with You that I took so long ago learning to swim. Amen.
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