I picture myself in the early morning, when the most devoted fishermen rise and take to the water, floating in my blue-and-white boat, the sail bound tight, because the wind is extinct. I am alone. And the net I have cast is hanging limp beneath the green surface of the mire, because Christ is not beside me.
Anyone can drift.
I look back at all God has done in my life, all the truly marvelous things, and I am inspired to write a memoir, just to give Him glory. How is it, then, that even now I still can let myself drift into a lukewarm place, a stagnant mire connected to the Great River, forgetting where I’ve come from and where He wants to take me?
We read so often in Scripture: return to him. To return, this implies that we have departed from somewhere or someone. Nothing reveals human weakness like the truth that, even knowing how good God is, we still manage to let our gaze wander, our compass to swivel. We take the current for granted, laying back, kicking up our feet, closing our eyes, and letting our boat drift off course.
When I open my eyes and look around, I can almost be fooled by the peace of the mire. Here, I do not have to navigate rocks or rapids, I do not have to remain awake and watchful. Yes, here, life is easier, quieter, less demanding. But I am alone. I have left the Way, and thus the Way has left me.
It is a little like the peace of the dead. The grave is quiet. No more is the sinner fighting, day after day, to stick to the course. His struggle is over, it’s true, but he cannot retract or retrace his earthly journey. What is done is done, be he damned or be he saved.
I never want to live as if I am already dead. When I reach down into the water (which is barely warm, like used bathwater) to retrieve my net (which holds only fetid algae), I realize three things: I will die of thirst in this mire, which is too foul to drink; I will never, ever catch anything; and the peace is hollow, devoid of the spark of life that is joy. I have nothing to live for.
I can only conclude that I was not created to live in the mire, but on the Great River, where the water is clear and swift and rife with fish, no matter how challenging the Way may be. Here in the mire, my purpose as a human being is as extinct as the wind.
Daily, I find it is a struggle to remain awake and watchful. I often resent the rocks and the rapids, and only in hindsight do I remember how my blood rushed hot with vigor. I remember how in those moments, God called on my strength, demanded I rise above my weakness, and asked me to trust that the Great River will indeed take me home.