Jean and I recently returned from a little vacation trip to Oregon to visit our youngest daughter, Rachel. Some of you may know her from having seen her at the Exeter Chamber of Commerce where she has been working part time. She has also spent her summers the last few years involved in a Christian ministry the National Parks called ACMNP. Two years ago she was at Big Sur State Park. Last year it was the Rocky Mountain National Park. And this year she’s at Crater Lake National Park.
Crater Lake is a breathtaking phenomenon. It’s located at the top of an inactive volcano, some 5-6 miles wide and nearly 2,000 feet deep. It’s also ice cold this time of year. After we returned home this past week, Rachel sent us a text containing a short, 10 second video of her jumping into Crater Lake. It shows Rachel standing by the edge and then you hear her roommate counting down: three, two, one… and Rachel jumps into the lake. She comes to the surface with a gasp. A gasp “heard round the world.” The water was so cold it literally took the breath out of her.
To me that illustrates how we need to commit ourselves to God. We can stand on the edge and watch, or we can jump all the way in. There are many people today who say they want God in their lives, but they actually keep him out in the margins. They want an “insurance policy” to keep them out of Hell, but they still want to be in control of their own life, living however they want to live, doing what’s right in their own lives.
A poem by Wilbur Rees, called “Three dollars’ worth of God,” puts it this way: “I would like to buy three dollars’ worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.”
That’s how many people see their commitment to God. They want just enough to make them happy, but as far as having their lives transformed, “Forget about it!” And yet, God wants us to “jump all the way in.” He wants our total commitment. For when we do, that’s when we’ll fully experience his presence, love, peace and joy in our lives, for we’ll truly come to know Him. In 2 Corinthians 5:15 the apostle Paul said this, “And He (Jesus) died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Jesus died for you so that you might live for him and fully experience life. That transforming life is found in knowing Him. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full!” So don’t stand on the edge of the lake, wondering what it might be like to jump in. Jump in and experience the refreshing waters of knowing Christ and living for him.
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church and Lemon Cove Community Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.