Dad and I sat on the edge of the rocky cliff next to the water. With our feet hanging in the cold water, we began to put our gear on.
My dad is obsessed with being in the water. My fondest memories as a kid were at the hotel pools. Dad became something else when he was submerged. He would torpedo from one end to the other, then walk on his hands back to the shallow end. He would float with his back facing up and my brother and I would pretend he was a boat dock. We’d see how many times we could jump off his back before he came up for air. Sometimes we couldn’t believe how long he’d stay under. We’d try to pull him up, convinced that he needed a breath.
After getting our masks, snorkels and fins on, we hopped into the rock quarry water. The cold took our breath away. I peeked under water, a dark forest of seaweed loomed beneath our feet. I’m not sure if my teeth chattered from the cold or from my imaginings of what lurked in the dark.
Dad took the first dive. I watched him as he swam to about 10 feet below the surface. He paused, blowing air in intervals. Then he came back up to the surface, cleared his snorkel, and took a few breaths before diving to 10 feet again. I watched him as he did this several times. He had explained to me, “At about 8-10 feet below, there is a change in pressure. Your body has to learn to acclimate at this level, before going deeper. If your ears pop when you blow air out, you’re ready to go further. If you can’t get them to pop, you have to come back up for air before you try again.”
Once I mustered up the courage to dive into the weeds, I played around with it. A few times I was able to get my ears to pop and venture further into the darkness. About 20 feet down, you can feel an instant temperature change, it gets even colder!
A week after our dive, I found a spot in the back corner of The coffee shop. I sit in this corner when I don’t want to be interrupted. A short wall juts out, creating a little cove. I put my headphones in, put on instrumental music, and invited the Spirit to speak to me. I closed my eyes and took a breath, closing out the world around me. Suddenly I saw myself back in the cold water of the quarry. I heard the Lord speak,
“I’m moving you through an acclimation process.”
With one line he spoke directly to my heart. So many times I had pleaded with him for something to change in my circumstance. For years it felt like things were heading in the opposite direction I had imagined them going. It seemed like once a month a partner in ministry walked away from what we had been building. I had no sense of vision anymore. Anything I put my hands to seemed to fall apart. It felt as though the only solution was escape.
But he was inviting me deeper.
There is something that gets developed in us, in that struggle of acclimation. The work of going down and back up, again and again, is a necessary part of the process, it’s what prepares us for a greater depth.
“Lord, I’ve faced this barrier for quite a while. I’ve been so frustrated by my inability to go deeper and further than where I’ve been. The pain of my circumstance feels like the barrier, it’s preventing me from going anywhere.” I keep telling myself, Once I get out of here things will be better again.
“It will be easier for you if you find an escape,” I hear the Lord respond, “that’s because you’ll have settled for shallow waters. Feel free to do so!”
I sensed the sincerity of the offer and it unsettled me.
“But I am inviting you to deeper water. Your current struggle is the acclimation process. Embrace it! Learn to cultivate my presence and peace in the increased pressure and discomfort. You will not be able to be sustained in deeper water if you can’t acclimate with me here.”
When given the option, I know I’m not willing to settle for the shallow waters of where I’ve been. We were designed to go deeper. I am committed to the acclimation process.
This essay is based on an excerpt from Kyle Peters’s book, Every Bush Afire. If you enjoyed it, please check out the full book on Amazon here. Be a friend to good Kingdom publishing: grab a copy, read, share, and review!