Floating in Faithfulness
One of my favorite memories of being a young child was swimming in the ocean with my father. I remember how my siblings and I would wait impatiently for him to arrive home from work. When we heard his car parking, we’d run out to the front yard as if he had abandoned us for days. Then, just as he came down the steps, we would pounce on him with all manner of negotiating and begging for him take us to the beach.
I would imagine being the father of seven was a heavy load for him to carry, especially when his day job was equally taxing. He usually looked so tired as he lumbered down the path to our front door, with his knuckles red and his necktie hanging from his open collar. Perhaps what he really wanted to do was grab a beer and flop down on the couch. We’ll never know because more times than not he would pull on his swim trunks and drive our rambunctious crew to the beach.
Floaters and Sinkers
Don’t get me wrong. His specialty, at least on those evenings, was not body surfing. He would swim out beyond the surf line while the summer sky was offering its last gasp color before night fell. There he would float on his back while the rest of us would splash around him like a pod of dolphins, sometime catching a big swell, only to rejoin him moments later, exhilarated by the power of water.
For that moment, he was the center of our family’s solar system, steadier than the sun we had just watched disappear beneath the horizon. Up and down he floated with each passing swell as darkness would fall.
Truth be told, it has taken me many years to float as well as my father. I was more of a sinker than a floater. When lying on my back I would become anxious and therefore ridged, which mysteriously caused my legs to sink as if they were an anchor pulling me down into the depths. Either that, or I would flail about trying to keep my balance which yielded the same result. I remember my dad saying to me, “Sweetheart, you just need to relax. Imagine that you are lying on your bed and falling asleep. Allow the water to hold you.”
Deep Sense of Belonging
It was moments like those, listening to the practical wisdom of a kind father, when I felt my deepest sense of belonging, five or more children lying on our backs with our Dad in the center, looking up into a darkening sky at the first stars of night. The Pacific would become a bed of peace, rocking us in its timeless arms and sustaining us without any effort of our own.
What a Year!
I suppose this memory has surfaced for me recently because I believe we could all use a little “floating” in our lives about now. “Disruption” and “upheaval” hardly begin to describe 2020, and it is not over yet.
Our nation is setting new records for COVID-19 cases each day. We remain uncertain whether our political leaders can and will deliver a peaceful transfer of power. And no one can predict how our national economy will recover once all workers can return safely to their jobs. In the face of these circumstances, we might be more inclined to panic and flail about than to float. But I don’t believe that is who we are as people of faith, nor as a presbytery.
We believe in a God who is abundantly more able to hold us up than any ocean. And so we work and pray as a presbytery, mindful that faith is more about “being held” than “grasping for,” about surrendering to God’s plan than it is creating our own.
Request for Prayer
Since my last post, our presbytery has appointed a Strategic Task Group to ask the deeper questions about what COVID will mean for our presbytery’s future. They will review our presbytery’s current Vision for Mission Design and make recommendations about what to keep and what to let go of. They may even decide that starting with a blank canvas makes the most sense, given the unprecedented times we find ourselves in. Regardless of the organizational design that they ultimately recommend, one component of it will be to establish benchmarks that accurately evaluate our presbytery’s efforts to cultivate vital congregations and partnerships.
In closing, I would ask you be in prayer for them as they begin their work. For that matter, let us be in prayer for all our congregations and new worshiping communities as we encourage each other to “float in faith” during these most perplexing times.
May the God of peace be with you until we meet again,