WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Take the Plunge!
Photo by Hubert Stoffels 2009
Many years ago I went to a swimming hole in a pristine
wooded area with a waterfall plunging into a refreshing stream. Some young
people had a Labrador retriever puppy with them, and they took great delight in
carrying him to the top of the falls, releasing him into the current, and
letting him plunge to the bottom of the falls into the stream, where one of
them waited with open arms to catch him.
Labradors love water, and he seemed to enjoy the experience.
But even though he could see his master waiting below with open arms, he
paddled all four limbs frantically the whole way down and even after he was
safely in his master’s embrace.
I was by far the worst swimmer at school and at summer
camp, and I know I tried the patience of many instructors who attempted, to no
avail, to teach me to dive head first. Even though I could see where I was
going and had my body aligned properly as I stood on the diving board, my head
inevitably lifted the moment before I entered the water, resulting in a painful
One day the swimming instructor had me repeat this so many
times that my chest turned beet red, and as a last resort, he picked me up and
hurled me into the water head first. But in my stubborn refusal to submerge my
head under the water, I belly-flopped yet again.
A popular beverage commercial urged us to “Take the Nestea
plunge!” It showed a parched cowboy in the arid desert reaching for a can of tea
and experiencing refreshment so profound that it was like falling backward into
a cool blue swimming pool.
It was fear that kept me from diving head first even though
I could see where I was going, and a survival instinct in the puppy that kept
him paddling even though he didn’t need to. I can only imagine what it would be
like to abandon all fear and plunge backward into a refreshing spring, not
seeing where I would land and surrendering all control.
Yet that is exactly what we should do in our Christian
walk. Trusting Christ means total surrender, with His perfect love casting out
all fear (1 John 4:18), and
His Living Water refreshing us so deeply that we will never thirst (John 4:10-14). Once we are born
again by trusting in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we are a new creature
in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Once we are saved, baptism is a picture of “taking the
plunge,” falling back into the water as a symbol of dying to our sin nature,
then rising again to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Christians should no longer be governed by the
desires of our flesh and sin nature, but instead we should yield control of our
life to His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25)
Who enters us at the moment of salvation (2
Corinthians 1:22; 5:5.
But so often I am like the puppy, paddling frantically
against the current of my Lord’s will instead of trusting His everlasting arms
(Deuteronomy 33:27) to
shelter, protect and lead me. In my own flesh, I can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Him, all
things are possible (Matthew 19:26;
Philippians 4:13). Peter even walked on water when Jesus willed that
he do so, but the instant he looked at the turbulent storm instead of his
Lord’s steady gaze, he began to flounder and sink (Matthew 14:28-31).
We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), so ideally our journey in Christ should
be more like the Nestea plunge rather than my painful experience of diving only
when I can see where I’m headed. Only if we trust His infinite love (1 John 4:8-10), absolute power (Genesis 17:1, etc.), and complete
wisdom (Psalm 139:1-18) can we
fully experience the fountain of His blessings (Song of Solomon 4:15; Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13), being
in His perfect will.
But if we try to do it ourselves, whether “it” is being
saved, serving God, or loving others as He loves us, we are doomed to failure.
How many people want to put off trusting Christ until they “clean up their act”
or “get it all together”? How many new Christians put off witnessing to others
until they learn “enough” about the Bible? Yet all that reasoning is futile because
none of us is capable of doing anything in our own strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As Bible-believing Christians, we know that we are saved by
God’s freely given gift of grace through our faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is
nothing we can do to earn our way to Heaven, and any attempt to do that is an
insult to God, Who gave His only Son as the perfect Sacrifice to pay for all
our sins (John 3:16; Romans 3:23-25; 1 John 2:2).
On the cross, He said “it is finished,” (John
19:30) because he paid our debt in full, once and for all, to reconcile
sinful man to Holy God (2 Corinthians
The tremendous relief many feel at the moment of salvation,
far more refreshing than any earthly equivalent of the Nestea plunge, comes
from leaving our burdens of sin and guilt behind and releasing them to Him,
freeing us to receive His great blessings. In our gratitude, relief, and worship,
it is natural to want to serve God by good works (James 2:17-26; Philippians 2:12). But there lurks the
trap of feeling we need to work to please God or to figure out on our own how
to serve Him.
Praise God that His love is infinite, so He can’t love us
any less even when we fail Him, and He can’t love us any more when we work hard
to please Him. As a loving Father, He places no pressure on us, yet sometimes
we collapse under the self-imposed pressure to try in the flesh to work “for”
Him. But paradoxically, the harder we work, the less we trust in Him. Only
complete surrender to His will (James
4:7) and faith in His power to accomplish His good work through us (1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 1:6)
allows His perfect plan to flow through our life (Ephesians 2:10; Jeremiah 29:11).
Saul of Tarsus learned that the hard way. As a religious
zealot, he thought he was pleasing God by persecuting and killing Christians, for he did not accept Jesus as the Son of God. Finally, when Christ appeared to
him on the road to Damascus, he recognized that He was God and surrendered completely
to Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. The glorious light of Christ blinded him,
perhaps in part so that he would have to rely on faith and not on his own
vision (Acts 9:1-18).
Jesus gave Saul the new name of Paul, and more importantly,
He gave Him new life, just as He does to everyone who asks Him (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
Except for Jesus Himself, Paul is the best Biblical example of what God can do
through a fully surrendered life. Yet even Paul had the daily battle with his
own desires and his own flesh (Romans 7:12-25)
and had to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians
6:10-18) to die daily to self (1
May He empty us of self, leaving us as a conduit through
which His Living Water can flow to others. May we remember that it’s not about
what we can do, but about Who He is and what He does through us! May we not be
afraid to take the plunge headlong into the rushing current of His will, for
the reward of a surrendered life is blissfully exhilarating!