Have you ever signed up for something and then afterwards thought “why did I agree to do this?” If I am honest, that seems to be a common mode of operation for me. Near the end of last week, I found myself in that frame of mind. I along with two other members of the congregation had agreed to attend a Messy Church USA Conference in Huntington Beach, California. I know that some of you might be saying, “Oh what a sacrifice” and perhaps rightfully so, it is beautiful in Southern California. But as the end of the week approached and I thought about the amount of travel time that we were facing and the possibility that we might be disappointed by the conference, I worried that we had made a mistake in agreeing to go.
During the sessions of the conference we touched on many subjects including discipleship and it made me think about the time when Jesus called his disciples to follow him, stating that he would make them fishers of people. I wonder if after they put down their nets and followed him, they thought “why did I agree to do this?” Of course, we know that the disciples often had their own doubts and struggles during their time with Jesus. We can read about it in the Gospel stories. I think that it is fair to say that many if not all of us have those times in our own discipleship. We have times when we feel like our discipleship is shallow. Times when we feel like we are really only going through the motions. We also have times when we feel like we are fully immersed in our faith and have no doubts about what we are doing and why.
One of the illustrations given during the conference about discipleship was comparing our discipleship to a pool. There are many types of pools: pools used for recreation offering a shallow end and deep end; pools used for competitions or exercise divided into lanes allowing us to practice and improve our skills; pools designed to help those who have disabilities or special needs as they rehab. All the pools have different usages and all are important for different reasons. When we are younger or just beginning to swim, it is important to have pools with shallow ends so we feel secure as we learn new skills or even now when we just want to relax in the pool allowing water to gently flow around us, the shallow ends gives us refuge. As we become better swimmers, the deep end of the pool give us room and freedom to stretch ourselves a bit; pools with lanes allow us to do some hard work and pools that provide for space and equipment for rehabilitation give us the opportunity to heal when our bodies, minds or spirits have been broken.
Just as the pool allows for all these activities, so must we allow space in our church for all the different stage on the journey of discipleship. From the time when we first seek to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to times when we are really exercising and growing our faith to times when we may need space to recover from what life has thrown at us. All these stages in discipleship are natural and we as a Church must make space for people in all stages to enter regardless of where they are on their individual journeys. Understanding that there may be times when we all wonder what we have signed up for, questioning if we have made the right decisions and times when we grateful for the journey and the opportunities that we have experienced along the way. As we journey through this week, let us be mindful of which pool we are in on this journey of faith and let us be supportive of others who are journeying alongside us.