The main reason I wanted to go to the Captain Cook Monument was to go snorkeling, supposedly it had some of the best snorkeling on the island. We chose to rent kayaks and paddle the mile across the bay to the monument side – the other option was to hike down the 2.5 mile jeep trail and then hike back up it, a 1,000 ft. elevation drop and gain – I’d rather kayak. As we paddled spinner dolphins swam with us, sometime getting close enough you felt you could touch them with your paddle – it was amazing, probably my most memorable experience in Hawaii. We got to the other side of the bay and began to snorkel, probably my second most memorable experience in Hawaii. The color was vibrant, the fish were abundant, and the water was cool and refreshing. After an hour or so of snorkeling I felt the itch to swim out to deeper water and try to swim with the dolphins. As I swam further from shore the cliff dropped dramatically and I went from swimming calmly above coral and tropical fish to feeling lost above a blue abyss, thoughts of a barracuda coming out of nowhere or a reef shark coming in to feed, or even a dolphin swimming towards me freaked me out, so I quickly returned to the comfort and safety of trumpet fish.
God is a lot like the abyss: deep yet intriguing, sometimes He is so scary that you feel like just swimming back to shore. Especially when he asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense.
Jesus equated himself to water on a few occasions. To the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus said “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” John 4:14. Then again in John 7:37 he says “If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scriptures has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” And again in Revelation 22:17 “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”
Christ is a little scary too, just read all of Revelation. He says himself that He didn’t come to offer peace, but the sword. And as Beaver says in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, “He isn’t safe, but he’s good.”
As soon as we start to believe we think we understand the Abyss, as soon as we think we know something about God, we need to check ourselves. God is beyond our understanding, and that is what is so remarkable about faith: to truly grow in our relationship with God, you have to step out in faith to grow your faith, you have to swim after the dolphins, you have to swim into the unknown.
When I was in my masters program for teaching I learned about a theory on learning: to truly learn you must get out of your comfort “box” you must learn in an atmosphere that forces cerebral transformation. I think it was Palmer or somebody. (The ironic thing was that I learned that by reading a book and then sitting in a classroom with 30 other would-be-teachers discussing it, not exactly stretching the educational atmosphere.) You could apply this theory to faith too – we’ve got to swim into the abyss if we want to be able to truly know our God, to fully understand Christ. It may be scary, it may not make sense, but it is the only way.