Do you remember the first time you jumped off the high dive? Hopefully it was a better experience than mine was. I was around the age of seven, and our family was living in Nigeria when I first saw a high dive. Living in a third world country, there weren’t many pools around, but there was a place called the Coco Dome in the city of Ibadin, about two hours away from our home in Ogbomosha, Nigeria. Every now and then, several missionary families would make the drive for the day. I don’t remember all of our trips to the Cocoa Dome, but I do remember the trip where I got the nerve to jump off the high dive. I remember watching the older kids climb up the ladder to the two concrete platforms that were probably ten feet above the water and then throwing themselves off the end and landing in the water. They looked like they were having so much fun and I finally got up the nerve to join in the fun. The platforms were pretty wide and there was plenty of room for several people to be up there at the same time. In America this would have been an insurance nightmare. I nervously climbed up the ladder and stood on the platform next to a few of my friends. Once I got up there, it wasn’t that bad. It was actually quite fun. There were rails on the sides to keep us from falling so I felt safe, I had a great view of the pool and all that was going on, and I was glad to be up there with the big kids, rather than sitting on the edge of the pool watching them have all the fun. I honestly could have just sat there the whole time and still had a great time. But eventually it was my turn to jump. I walked to the edge of the diving board with my knees knockin’ and teeth chatterin’. I stood there for what seemed like eternity and then finally when the moment was right, I turned around and went to sit on the back of the platform and watched everyone else leap off the edge and splash into the water.
I feel that I have often approached my relationship with Christ in the same way I approached the high dive at the Cocoa Dome. As God calls us into relationship with Him, we are often eager to follow. We recognized that God has rescued us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and for that we are eternally grateful. We are grateful enough to do our best to follow Him. We want to live our lives in response to His love and what He has done for us in a way that is pleasing to Him. The problem is that we sometimes think the life God wants us to live is a life filled with church attendance, involvement in a Life Group, tithing, Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, and other spiritual disciplines. Please don’t misunderstand this, these things are a large part of what God is calling us to. However, it is a life much like my climb up the ladder to the high dive where I was safe, had a good view, and could hang out with my friends. When we get up there we can’t simply stay there. God didn’t rescue us for our own spiritual development and growth. God rescued us so that we might then help rescue the world.
There are times when I feel like my spiritual life has a great rhythm to it. There are seasons when I do well to read Scripture and pray on a regular basis. There are seasons when I feel like our Life Group community is having wonderful conversations about life and what it means to live in relationship with Christ. However, in the midst of this nice rhythm, it also feels like I am stuck. It is a similar feeling to that feeling of standing on a high dive on the back of the platform. It is a good place to be; at least I am up there, right? But I know there is something much better waiting if I would just get the nerve to walk to the edge of the platform and jump. I climbed that ladder not to simply to sit at the back and hang out. I had good intentions of jumping off; I just got stuck.
Our Youth Ministry is going on our Spring Retreat in a month and our theme of the weekend is “Seek the Welfare.” Not a surprise if you heard the top ten ways you know you are at Harris Creek. We are going to be looking at specific social justice issues and asking God to show us how we can be involved in seeking justice for those who can’t help themselves. For those of us who sometimes feel like we are stuck in our Christian lives, I think a great way to get unstuck is to think about God’s calling to pursue justice. Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.“ The prophet Isaiah says something similar in Isaiah 1:17, ”Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
Maybe you feel like you are a spiritual person and you currently have a good rhythm to your life. But God didn’t rescue us to be spiritual. What would it look like for you to pursue justice? What would it look like for you to help those who can’t help themselves? I can’t answer that question for you but I believe God is calling you to ask yourself.
By the way, I did jump off that high dive and that is probably why I remember that trip and not the others.