How’s this for an amazing photo?
What do you mean, it’s just a rubbish picture of a river, with a fish vaguely visible under the surface? This is an action shot! This is a photo of a huge fish just after it dived down at the sight of me raising my camera.
This is a picture of a disappearing act.
On one of our recent record-breakingly hot days, I had the rare pleasure of a long, leisurely walk along a rural canal, enjoying the tranquillity of some time alone, to ponder, pray and photograph.
Fish were rising to the surface of the Basingstoke Canal, but as soon as this one saw me prepare to take the photo, it quickly submerged.
It sparked a thought. At the slightest perceived threat, the fish went deeper.
And for people who know and love God, there’s always an innate, but sometimes latent, desire to go deeper with him – to know him better, to grow closer.
When we feel under threat – is that when we especially choose to go deeper? Do we retreat into prayer? Do we submerge into his arms? Do we dive into his presence?
I was reminded that when things get tough, when life throws its stresses and challenges at me, as it often does, I need to go deeper into him. To be like the fish, and do a disappearing act.
And that when life gets too busy and we’ve taken on too much, we need to stop, take time out. Not only to rest, but to dive into him, retreat into prayer.
Into that place where we let God reveal to us our motivation for such frenetic activity, where he grants us permission to rest.
Where we discover what his priorities are for our lives.
In that place we find refreshment. We find protection.
Strength to face real or perceived threats.
And power to do just what he wants us to do. No more, no less.
Jesus often withdrew from the crowds. He realised his need to retreat into his Father’s arms, to find strength and guidance for whatever was next.
In order to do effectively just the things he was meant to be doing, rather than trying well-meaningly to be everything to everybody, he needed those times alone with his Father. There lay all the resources he needed.
I know all this (and you probably do, too). But I for one am still a bit of a ‘Martha’*, someone who doesn’t easily stop and just ‘be’. I tend to be always on the go. Always something else that needs to be done. Lists to check off.
I also love to retreat, especially into places of nature, to reflect, pray and refresh. I often need the reminder, though, of just how much I need to submerge into my Father’s depths, into Jesus’ love. To spend time with him, to become more of the person he wants me to be.
Those wonderful individuals I know who exude God’s love and grace aren’t necessarily people who have read lots of books on the subject or can write clever stuff in blogs, but are those who have spent time talking, listening, and being, with their Father. I know – more than I know anything – that there are no short-cuts to being filled with God’s presence and shining out his love to the world.
I’m grateful to the fish for this reminder.
So if I disappear from Facebook for a while or don’t write a new blog post for some time, or you don’t see me frantically serving in church, it may be for a number of reasons, but let’s hope that it’s because I’ve listened to my own message – that I’m going deeper with my Father.
And I hope you too are inspired, not so much by my thoughts here, but by your own knowledge and experience of the Father’s grace, to submerge again into him.
I took this photo the same day, along the canal. It’s quite clichéd and has nothing to do with the blog, but it’s a better picture than the one of the fish!
*As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”