Summer always reminds me of trips that I have taken to the ocean: the smell of the salty air, the sand in between my toes, and the chilly ocean water. I can hear the waves crashing with a consistent rhythm. I feel the sun on my skin warming my bones. The water makes me feel like a kid again, as I let the tide wash over my feet and jump the waves after I have dived through the boundary of their breaking. I revisit my awe in the One who made all of this. Truly, something about the ocean seems to help my soul and body relax.
Let’s use the ocean experience as an analogy for living the call as a pastor’s spouse. As we stand in the ocean waters, to our right is a buoy entitled “Freedom.” At this buoy, there is complete freedom, no judgement, and the courage to be ourselves. In the ocean waters to our left is a buoy entitled “Fear.” At this buoy there are expectations of who others think we should be. There is anxiety and a depth of loneliness that is heart-wrenching.
We stand in the middle of these two buoys. We can feel the current constantly pulling against us. This current naturally pulls us toward fear. Before we know it, we are swept toward the buoy of fear, and we soon nd ourselves colliding with it. We ask ourselves, “How did I get here?” I don’t think anyone chooses to live a life of fear, so how does this happen?
We wind up at the buoy of fear by not paying attention.
We are all subject to the currents. Perhaps many people in our churches grapple with a current pulling them toward fear. Many of us jumped into ministry with the best of intentions, thinking we could help save others, but we forgot that the same current that pulls them pulls us. Sometimes, in our efforts to help others, we get swept away. We don’t mean for it to happen, but it does. It has happened to me. I have bumped my head on the buoy of fear more times than I care to admit. The good news is: We don’t have to be pulled away by the currents of fear.
Navigating the Currents
First, we must start paying attention and start swimming. If our goal is the buoy of freedom, we must put e ort into our everyday spiritual development, which moves us toward the freedom God has in store for us. God wants us to live in His sweet freedom. So, to counteract the ever-present current of fear, we must swim. Swimming requires both our arms and our legs. Let’s think of our arms as reading the Bible, which provides us with everything that we need for life and salvation. The same Spirit that that was given at Pentecost is the same Spirit that breathes through the Scriptures. When I neglect the Scriptures, I am neglecting a life-giving encounter with the Spirit of God. Each time I do, the current of fear sweeps me further away from freedom.
The second part of swimming is using our feet to kick. Let’s call that prayer. Don’t know where to begin? Prayer also propels us toward freedom. The Lord’s Prayer is our model. We pray for those who have hurt us and for those who don’t understand us. We can pray for our marriages and families. In the intense pressure of ministry, we pray for a kind spirit and for maturity of character. Developing depth in our own study of Scriptures and in our prayer lives keeps our arms working and our legs kicking!
Moving away from the buoy of fear requires diligence and work. Reading Scriptures and praying is the way we swim toward the buoy of freedom. It’s the only way to live.
While we are fighting the currents of life and swimming, we keep an eye out for lifeguards. You may hear a voice asking if you need help. How wonderful are those people who encourage our swimming against the current! How blessed are those who urge us toward freedom! Sometimes we have people in our lives who mean well, but their idea of help is really not much help at all. Sometimes, they even beckon us toward the buoy of fear. They haven’t really learned the importance of swimming against the current, and they are in danger of taking us under.
We want to make sure we respond to those who really are lifeguards. We learn from others who are experiencing freedom in Christ right in the middle of ministry.
The Beauty of Swimming
A day in the surf usually wears me out, but I love the experience. Swimming against the current of fear can be tiring too, but we aren’t alone, adrift in the waves. The Holy Spirit gives us strength and inspires us to keep at it. Spending a life praying and reading Scriptures results in freedom. God wants to give peace and hope to you and to all those in your life as you live beside the call. Today seems like a great day to turn toward the buoy of freedom and start swimming. Join me in being a voice that calls others away from fear and toward true freedom.