As I slowly climbed one rung after another, fear seized me. The place was the Muskegon High School pool. The time was long ago when I was in seventh grade. The occasion was my first-ever high dive attempt.
My friends had talked me into making the climb and the subsequent jump during open swim one Saturday afternoon. They said it was easy and that it was really something I should do, and believe me, I really wanted to. But as I began my ascent, my mind began to change. About half way up, I was ready to turn back, but two or three others had inched up the ladder behind me making it impossible to go back down.
Once I got up to the platform, it was a scary view. First, from up there it did not appear like an Olympic size pool anymore. And I was big-time conflicted— “Do it!” and “No, it will hurt!” spoke into each of my ears. I wanted it but the urge to back down was stronger. Finally, because I was holding everyone up, someone shouted, “Just jump, man!”
What about you? Have you ever wanted to start something but fear and dread took over? It might have been something like diving off the high dive, but maybe it was more of a real life everyday situation. Maybe you have needed to begin a diet or quit drinking alcohol for health reasons, but you just can’t pull the trigger. You are afraid you might fail. Perhaps you want to better yourself with some formal education, but self-doubt has kept you from enrolling in a college class or other training. Intimidation might be keeping you from taking a shot at a sales presentation with a potential client.
I think there is a far more serious opportunity in which many across our community find themselves crippled from moving forward. Sometimes people have an inner yearning to take a step toward God, but something causes them to avoid any meaningful movement. “I am busy right now. When I have time, I will begin with God,” or “I just do not know where to start, so I will just wait and see if anything changes” are just a couple of the thoughts that can keep us in limbo.
How do I know if I am ready to explore faith in God? An indication might be if you have been thinking any of the following questions: Where did I come from? Why am I here? How am I supposed to live? What is my final destiny? These are the types of questions that need careful attention.
If you have ever felt this way, I want to share with you three sequential movements that you can take toward coming nearer to the Lord.
First of all, call out to God. In James 4:8 it says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Similarly, in Matthew 11:28, the Lord Jesus Christ directs us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Here is the invitation: take a step toward God by acknowledging him and addressing him. It is an open conversation with the God of the universe. This brief talk or prayer might sound something like this, “Lord, show me that you are real” or a cry for mercy like the song that Jonny Cash once sang, “Help me, Lord.” This “calling out” could be a rendering of the frustration you have with God. For examples, read several of the Psalms.
The next movement toward God that comes in succession would be to get some of your questions addressed. You may want to start with the Bible. Or sometimes, a secondary source can be helpful in directing you in the Bible so that you can get to the issues that you want addressed. While there are many helpful books out there, I believe a great book to help those with intellectual questions is New York Times Best Seller, Tim Keller’s book, “The Reason for God.” It can help you navigate through the challenge that the author calls “the leap of doubt.”
Just one more movement toward God that I would share here is to find a church that has a high view of the Bible, and additionally, one that is pragmatically living out Christ-likeness. The best way to find out a church’s view of the Bible is to simply ask the lead minister “What is your belief about the Bible?” The best way to discern if a church is living out Christ-likeness is observation. Join and begin to discover a new adventure, the adventure of faith.
I took the advice of the dude that told me to “Just jump, man!” Sure, it hurt a little as I did a belly flop but I survived, and more than two decades later, I have never regretted it. Now it’s your turn. Just jump, man!