When I was a kid our house was about 800 meters from a lake. It was the place where I first learned to swim. There was a little pier off the shore where small rowboats would dock. It was a great place to get your water-confidence built because at the end of the pier the water was deep enough to canon ball jump into but you could still touch the ground and your head was easily out of water.
But there was another pier in the lake – the place where all the big kids would hang out. Everyone out on the other pier was usually laughing and yelling. To a 5 year old THIS was the coveted place to be in the lake. Except there was one problem: it was out in water way over a 5 year old’s head. I remember trying to “walk” out to the pier – the “swimmer’s walk” – where you try to bounce your way out because the water is too high. If you bounce you can take a quick breath and if the water goes over your nose it’s not a big deal – you just bounce and breathe and keep doing that until you get to your desired destination. Technically you could still touch and you were still obeying Mom’s instructions of “don’t go past where you can touch”. The problem: the pier was beyond reach of where I could “bounce and breathe” my way out. I was just learning to swim – not confident enough to totally go for it and push myself past the place where my feet still had a tentative connection to the ground – where I was swimming.
I remember when I finally got tired of watching everyone else have fun. I bounced and breathed my way out as far as I could go and then paused bouncing and breathing in place – knowing that my next step would be my last and I would have to swim. The short 10 foot gap to the pier looked so much further. I remember how much the adrenaline was pumping and my heart was racing with that last bounce I pushed off with that sent me dog-paddling into the gap. You’d never seen a 5 year old dog-paddle so fast with a more terrified look. But then I heard the shouts and cheers of the bigger kids that were on the pier, their hands reaching out to actually close the gap by grabbing my hand and pulling me in. OH! WHAT A FEELING! That first real swim in water that was over your head! I’m a big kid now! And it was ridiculously fun being on that pier with all the other big kids. I was also surprised at how quickly it felt normal to make that swim back and forth. The fear and apprehension faded almost completely by the third swim out and back. That pier would become my favorite place to hang out during the summer.
That gap between where I could still touch the bottom of the lake and where I would have to swim in order to reach the pier – we experience that same gap throughout our lives. I call it the “God-gap”. The God-gap is the gap between what we could humanly accomplish and what could happen only if God intervened. It’s the place where God says, “It’s time to swim!” It’s the place where He invites us to fearlessly trust Him.
What does the God-gap look like?
“What was I thinking when I said yes to this?!”
“I have no idea what to do…”
“I don’t have enough time…”
“I feel so overwhelmed!”
“I don’t feel the least bit qualified…”
“I have zero energy / ambition / desire…”
How often do we default to the habit of looking at things out of our depth as barriers instead of possibilities, as points of discouragement instead of opportunities to trust and learn? There is a fierce and fearless trusting in Him that God beckons us to jump – or swim – into.
This is what the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, says: “If you come back to Me and trust Me, you will be saved. If you will be calm and trust Me, you will be strong.”
When we lean into Him in trust, we tap into a strength beyond our own. When we get fed up with our “bouncing and breathing” techniques of trying to make things work, and just push off, giving a go, paddling our brains out, trusting God to close the gap, He’ll bring us to places and opportunities we’ve never experienced.
Where is the God-gap in your life? In what areas is God saying, “C’mon – you can trust Me. I know you’ve got the ‘swim’ in you!” It’s time to push off.