The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He is called out… The old life is left behind, and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity… out of the realm of the finite…into the realm of infinite possibilities.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
When I was younger I remember going out into the ocean after dark. My friend and I were swimming and we really weren’t paying much attention to what was happening in the water. Before long we realized that the lights on the shore were much smaller and that we were near the end of the long pier that many people walked and fished on. We began to try to swim back to the shore but the more we swam the more tired we got. We didn’t get anywhere; in fact I suspect we were still slowly losing ground to the water. We began calling out to the people on the pier for help. After a brief period of time a police officer showed up and flashed his lights on us. You can imagine our dismay when he called out to us “Get out of the water!” It was cruel. We were so exhausted. I thought I was going to die.
Finally, we heard a strange sound all about us then overhead we watched as a helicopter flew over and dropped a man out of it. Within moments the man was swimming beside us with a small red floatation device. The lifeguard told us to hang on and just relax our bodies. He reiterated that we were not to try and swim at all. If we tried to help by swimming we would only work at cross purposes to him. How shocked we were when he actually began to swim deeper out into the ocean. I remember being so confused, scared, and cold. But it worked, he actually swam out and then around the pier to bring us back in on the other side. This near death event was quite profound at the time but lately it has come to stand as a metaphor for my life.
This week has been difficult. We have worked so hard to get everything sold and moved, we have written letters and talked to multiple people on the phone, we have contacted and met realtors, we have tried to explain ourselves (probably with skillful ineptitude) to those at our parish, to our close friends and family, and even to the people who have come to buy or pick up stuff we are getting rid of. I have come to the certainty that I am no handyman and in fact am quite less than useful in working on appliances. It’s been so exhausting…
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jer 31:25
“How long, O LORD?” Psalm 13
“Jon, ‘Come and follow me.’” Matthew 4:19
“I don’t even know another language well enough. How am I going to be of any use?”
“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12
“I don’t feel ready and I really need to learn so much more.”
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” John 13:13
And how are we gonna sell our car? How are we gonna get out of our house? The dishwasher, the microwave, this is crazy, ahhhhhhhh!”
“Peace! Be still! Let me take on Myself your weaknesses, and bear your burden.” Mark 4:39; Matthew 8: 17
Sometimes during Mass I have these conversations with God and it seems to occur in my mind as I wrote above. I seem to find myself speaking a concern or complaint that has been said before and God answers as He has a thousand times before.
God, I don’t know what is happening right now. I can’t see the future but I love You so much that I am willing to surrender my knowledge and follow You.
God can be taken and held by love but not by thought. – The Cloud of Unknowing