Deep Breath

For my 18th Birthday my parents surprised me with a scuba diving trip at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Inside the 6.3 million gallon tank there are four whale sharks, a manta ray, and several thousand other fish and sharks from over fifty different species. It was a dream come true! When my dad and I arrived we saw that we were in a group with four other people. After putting on our wetsuits and gear we went to the dock and put our feet in the water in preparation for our underwater adventure. I was all too eager for my turn and went down as fast as I could.

My first three seconds underwater were some of the most beautiful seconds I have ever experienced. Beautiful fish everywhere I looked! As I took in the magnificent scene, a 17-foot long whale shark glided by three feet in front of me and flicked his tail. I spent the next 30 minutes of my life in total awe. I watched the manta ray compete for all of our attention by doing flips and swimming right over us. I watched the whale sharks move seamlessly over the top of the tank. And when a shark swam too close to me, my nerves almost got the best of me!

When it was all over we got out of the water and I was flying high. I thought, “How can anything else compare to the experience of that underwater world?” It had been a spiritual experience for me. Quickly, however, I noticed that though we had started with six divers, now there were only five. Confused, I asked the dive master what had happened. He explained that one of the men could not go the last four inches underwater. He could submerge himself up to his nose, but taking that first breath under the water caused him to panic and he had to cancel his dive.

Do you ever wonder if Jesus was who he claimed to be? So many times in my faith journey I feel like I have to take a leap of faith and hope that Jesus provide’s a net to catch me. The lifetime struggle of daily choosing to believe can seem exhausting. Some days I can dive right in — it is easy to believe and have faith in Jesus. But other days I feel just like this man in Georgia — I just can’t seem to take that first breath of faith. Sometimes I just can’t gather enough trust to let go and surrender.

In John 7, Jesus is the gossip of the town in Galilee. Everyone wants to know if he is really who he says he is. Jesus tries to be plain about it, but nobody seems to get it. Then Jesus says “ If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

When Jesus makes a promise he means it. It might take all of our courage, but he continually invites us to take another step in our relationship with him. His promise isn't that when you take that first breath and enter the water that it will be easy and perfect. His promise is that he will bring you somewhere you have never been before. The world becomes more rich and beautiful when you live with living water. Your walk will be deep and it will be wide. It will be hard and beautiful and so worth it. I am glad I took that breath and scuba dived that day, but I am in awe of the magnificent work I have seen God do when I took a breath into living water. May we be a people who dive into living water without fear. May we always have the courage to take that first step of faith, for he has promised that once we do we will never thirst again. May our hearts flow with rivers of living water.

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)

Holly Racca Middle School Youth Minister Southern Hills Church of Christ Abilene, Texas