Trying to live love well through the power of the Everlasting.

A dock.

My family owns land on the Racquette River; a recreational spot that has been in the family for years. Slowly and surely, each generation has added to it and it’s now a lovely spot to spend a Sunday afternoon. Picnic tables, fire pits, a grilling pavilion, a large gathering pavilion, working bathroom facilities, a volleyball court, a swimming area with a dock and floating raft, and all shadowed by enormous white pine trees. During “my weekend” of Monday and Tuesday, I try and get down there as often as I can to spend some time resting and relaxing just by myself.

Last week, the river was being run extremely low; probably the power company that owns the dams downriver attempting to conserve water during a rather dry summer. As I walked out onto the dock and examined the low water level, I suddenly noticed that the rock foundation our dock sits upon was in need of some rather extensive work. To put it bluntly, the foundation is a mess. Nothing a good afternoon of moving rocks about couldn’t fix, though. But I’ll need another day of low water levels in order to do that work. I can’t do it when the water is running high – I just can’t get under the dock or see which rocks need to be moved.

I realized something today: my life is a lot like my family’s messed up dock. Kinda shaky, but functional, and we’re all a bit too busy to focus on where work needs to be done. But remove the water, and there’s a messed up foundation exposed.

I believe that the last nine months removed from the Christian communities I’ve always known were God lowering the water levels for me.

I feel as if I’ve been freed up to do some important work on my foundation, to shore things up and strengthen my hold upon the rocks. Things that just couldn’t get done with the water there.

I’ve had nine months to just rest and be me with Papa, removed from all else. And in those nine months, we’ve systematically covered some fairly amazing and intensely deep issues. I feel more cemented in the Kingdom of Heaven than I’ve ever felt before; more at peace with the Holy One than I ever thought possible. Chains and shackles have fallen off and I’ve been amazed at the freedom that is to be found in the blood of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven. Some of those chains I wrapped around myself, some the world wrapped around me, and yes – some were even wrapped around me by the Church. But all of them have been coming off, with the Spirit showing me why I don’t need them or need to worry about them coming back.

Like an adult who now realizes why bathing is necessary, I don’t need to worry about my childish things returning. I won’t wrap those chains around me again. Like a driver who learns to slow down after a terrible accident, I’ve learned to avoid the world’s chains. And like a man burned by fire, I’ve learned the dangers associated with the benefits of loving and well-intentioned Christian communities. I love that the fire keeps me warm on cold nights, but I don’t like it when the fire burns me. Just because they mean well doesn’t mean that the chains they’re wrapping around you are beneficial. I’ve learned to tell the difference between the ropes that bind us together and the chains that bind me down. The ropes I love, the chains I’ll never again let them use.

I know that eventually the waters will rise again and I’ll enter a season of life where I’ll once again be emerged into Christian communities. A dock, after all, is designed to be in the water. But the work on the foundation during this season will help me to be more grounded, more secure, and a safer place of refuge and beacon of hope for others to see the strength and freedom that the transformative power of the Spirit of the Living God really can bring us.

Not bad at all.

3 responses to “A dock.

  1. Kerry Miller July 14, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Hey, Ethan! Sounds to me like you are in a great place!!
    I’d love to hear about some of the processes that have led to you feeling “more cemented in the Kingdom of Heaven”, and what that means!
    Gotta love this journey!
    Bye for now,

    • emarkthomas July 14, 2012 at 3:24 am

      I’ve got a feeling you’re much more familiar with them than you think – a lot of Peter Rollins’ recent posts, yours, Richard Beck’s, and these wonderful women named Amy Mitchell (http://unchainedfaith.com/) and Kathy Escobar (http://kathyescobar.com/) and just digested a lot of stuff, filtered it through other things I’ve read, etc. and… ah! it’s just awesome. I’ll go into detail when I’ve got more time.

      You’re right – I gotta love this journey!

      Thanks Kerry! 🙂

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