Feeling the turbulence? Go deeper!
Last Friday I got the closest I’ve ever been to a tsunami. As it turned out, it wasn’t actually that close, but it was startling nonetheless. I was in Papamoa in the Bay of Plenty, one street back from the coast, when an alert blared from my phone: “CIVIL DEFENCE TSUNAMI WARNING. DON’T WAIT … MUST EVACUATE NOW … FIRST WAVE IMPACT IS EXPECTED IMMINENTLY.” So we evacuated, into a log-jam of anxious car drivers heading for the hills.
It wasn’t too long before the threat level where we were was downgraded, but it had got my attention! And there was some frantic googling of “what to do in a tsunami.” One piece of advice seemed counter-intuitive (to this non-sailor). If you’re in a small boat, and begin to feel the surging swell, don’t rush for the shore – go deeper (if you have time, of course)! Why would you do that in the face of the approaching waves? Because it’s in the shallows that those waves are most destructive, whereas out in the deeper water the swell can be more easily ridden out.
That’s good advice for theological study. Two or three weeks in, you might already be feeling the turbulence. Perhaps new, disturbing ideas are being encountered, assumptions challenged; perhaps things you thought you knew seem less secure. What are you to do? It’s a natural impulse to kick out for the shore, get back to shallower water where you felt confident in your faith. But that’s where the danger from those waves of doubt and uncertainty is greatest. Turn and face the ocean, and you’ll see that it is the boats that are furthest out, in the deepest water, that are riding out the storm. Are you feeling those waves? Have courage, face them, go deeper, and stay on the journey.