I recently read a quote on faith that described living by faith like staying afloat in water. You don’t swim by grasping at the water – that’s futile. You stay afloat by relaxing and just letting your body be carried. In regards to faith, then, we have faith when we relax in reality, whatever it might turn out to be. We destroy faith when we grasp securely to specific notions about God.
I read this quote while contemplating the life and faith of Noah, so the water metaphor latched onto a very concrete event “floating” around in my brain. I imagined Noah preaching this message right before the flood. I imagine him saying, “OK, a big flood is coming, but don’t worry, just relax in the waves and you’ll be okay.” What a useless message!
Of course, he wouldn’t have given the other message either. The message “swim like mad” would have been just as useless, although at least more in tune with our base sense of survival.
Instead, I’m sure Noah would have preached a pretty specific message: Get in the boat!
God promised never again to destroy the world again with a flood, but there is still a judgment coming. We can call people to just “relax, everything will be okay,” or we can council people to a flurry of religious activity (do this, don’t do that), as if by their own actions they could somehow save themselves before the holy judgment of God. Or, we can call people to a simple and profound message: “Get in the boat!” Turn to the One who can save you completely, not through religious effort, but through faith. Yes, there is a singular idea to which we must grasp – the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – but we are grasping at more than just an idea. We are reaching out for a Person. And, more importantly, he is grasping for us.