I’m honored to participate in our pastor’s current sermon series, “#1 Fan?” as a guest writer. Here is the third installment:
She handed me her swim mask to hold as she ran to the water slides. I sat on the edge of the pool — face to the sun — and watched her skip away, her bright yellow mask threaded through my fingers.
As she slipped and slided again and again, I looked around sheepishly. Assured no one was looking at me, I held the mask onto my face and peeked under water.
I had forgotten the joy of seeing life under water, even in just the pool. Baby toes wiggling beneath their floats. Wiser and wrinklier knees butterfly stroking back and forth and back and forth. Strong and muscular legs holding squeals of delight over their heads until they are plunged down into the depths.
I braced myself and looked down at my own body. Above water, my legs were distorted and bloated and pale. But with that mask on, they were normal legs again. They didn’t shift and change and convince me I was something other than myself: I saw I missed a spot while shaving my legs. The pink of my toenail polish was rosier. I really needed a professional pedicure.
It was all so clear.
When did I decide it wasn’t okay to keep wearing a mask? When did I begin believing the distorted reflections of a chlorinated world instead of the truth? The mask protects our eyes from foreign chemicals that burn and sting as we look around when we’re pulled under. And when we choose not to wear it, we just plain can’t see. We close our eyes and are swayed aimlessly, allowing ourselves to be carried along instead of staying in our lane.
I recently plunged into the ocean of a writer’s conference without a mask. I had a dream and a book and a hope, but no mask. And it was a beautiful and amazing ocean, overflowing with life and ministry and Jesus…yet I only saw what was visible while my head was above water. When I fell under the surface, consumed by the waves again and again, my eyes stayed shut and I missed all the life that existed in the depths.
And yet, sweet and merciful Jesus met me there anyway. He saw when I was drowning in currents of insecurity and fear — He saw that I wasn’t seeing. So He got a hold of me while I was trying to learn about writing life-changing devotions and He stood behind me and wrapped His hands around my eyes and whispered to me to look.
And His fingers opened.
There, beyond waves of discouragement and a haunting desire to quit was a sea of life.
And I saw.
And my eyes didn’t burn.
And then He Spoke:
“It’s not about the book. It’s not about the book. Don’t lose sight of the ministry and the mission by getting too focused on the method.”
And I was broken and I wept and I sought refuge in the prayer room and saw some more. And He didn’t say the book would happen and He didn’t say it wouldn’t happen. He simply said it wasn’t about the book.
I needed to let it go.
So I let it go.
Trying to reflect on all He showed me that weekend is like swimming with my eyes closed. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m afraid I’m going to bump into others and interrupt their focused strokes or crash and burn into the sides of the pool and be left with scars and scratches. I continue to look at myself and only see distorted desires and a bloated ego and extremely pale talent, especially compared to all the other swimmers.
But in order to swim and not sink, I have let the Holy Spirit show me in His timing what I specifically need to mediate on. Drop by drop, splash by splash, one stroke at a time. I need to let Him show me which lane is mine and swim in just it, unhurried and steady. So that when I pray and seek and trust Jesus, it’ll be okay to open my eyes because He’s the Mask that protects my eyes from burning. And He speaks what I need to know for this moment in this day. And He reassures me I don’t have to process it all in one stroke…that I can take it lane by lane, pool by pool.
So give Him your oceans and your pools and your rivers and your streams. Let Him guide you through their forceful shores and take away the fear of life.
Let Him show you how to really see.