Written by Rev. Keith Turman
We weren’t far from the shore, about waist deep between the waves. The sea was calm and the afternoon sky was a perfect blue as we floated back into each other’s lives. This was just the second time in five years that I had seen my oldest son Ben. We were lost in conversation and the joy of each other’s company in this stunning tropical place. It was one of those moments that you find yourself saying, “I can’t believe we’re here in this stunning tropical place. This is amazing.”
And then the fish started flying. Lots of them. It was like school had been dismissed for a fire drill. One flew right in front of my face. Ben’s eyes grew wide, and I could tell by his look that our thoughts were the same. It’s unnatural for big fish to swim desperately for land. So without saying a word, we ran to the shore. You probably know what it looks like when two frightened boys try to run through waist deep water. The young couple from Texas saw us, and they followed us to the beach in similar fashion. They said, “Hey, are you okay?” We said, “Yeah, we’re good. Glad you guys made it out alive. There’s a great white shark out there. It’s either a shark or the kraken.”
It’s possible the fish were just playing tag and we got in their way. But it doesn’t change the fact that being in the water can be dangerous. The jellyfish and stingrays and random rusty fishhooks can be cause for concern. The water itself can be trouble too. I tried to body surf a really big wave once. Bad idea. It finally released my bloodied body from the shell bed and let me breathe again. When Ross was a baby, that wave’s cousin wiped us out and swiped him from my arms, lost in the foam for what seemed an eternity. But we keep swimming, because we figure the rewards are worth the risk.
Jesus’ disciples weren’t so sure. His last words to them seemed fraught with danger. Go back to Jerusalem. Go to Samaria. Witness to what you have seen. It was easier to just stay home and lock the door because the sharks were circling outside. But they would soon discover that those holding power were no match for the power that was about to hold them. On the Day of Pentecost, it became clear that God’s desire is for all people to know God’s love. All people. All in. And that first church, empowered by the Spirit, launched into the deep, because the reward is worth the risk. It’s what happened after Easter. It’s what needs to happen today. So keep swimming. Keep swimming.