You need to get out of the boat
My favorite hymn in our United Methodist Hymnal is "Tu Has Venido a la Orilla" (Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.) For those who aren't familiar with this hymn, here are the words:
Verse 1. Lord, you have come to the lakeshore looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones; you only asked me to follow humbly.
Refrain: O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name; now my boat's left on the shoreline behind me; by your side I will seek other seas.
Verse 2. You know so well my possessions; my boat carries no gold and no weapons; you will find there my nets and labor. (Refrain)
Verse 3. You need my hands, full of caring through my labors to give others rest, and constant love that keeps on loving. (Refrain)
Verse 4. You, who have fished other oceans, ever longed for by souls who are waiting, my loving friend, as thus you call me. (Refrain)
Here in Michigan we have a lot of lakeshores. I'm sure many of us have stood or sat by a lakeshore and contemplated the questions; Why am I here? Who am I, really? Who or what is God, and what is my relationship to God? I'm sure many of us have dedicated our life to Christ near a lakeshore. Some of us may have even been baptized at the lakeshore. I know it is my favorite place to sit and pray, and just be in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It doesn't seem to matter how many times I sing the refrain, it always leaves me with my heart strangely warmed. Just think, God searches us with His eyes, yes, His eyes, seeing every sin, and yet while smiling speaks our name. Not to criticize us, or belittle us, but to call us by name, and then He stands by our side and invites us to seek other seas.
And so here I sit at my computer realizing even now, this is one of those "other" seas. I've never written an article before, and yet, as the new Grand Rapids District lay leader, this is my challenge. I'm discovering as I go through the rather HUGE notebook that I received from Annette Erbes, our past Grand Rapids District lay leader, that the Grand Rapids District and the West Michigan Conference have been, and are very busy, seeking to make disciples in Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As I flip through the pages and pages of notes, I see words like vital church initiative, flow charts, budget status reports, strategic plans, AU, growing together...reaching out, and imagine no malaria, just to mention a few. Most of these words and concepts are rather new to me, scary, and yet exciting. I'm meeting new laity and clergy from around the conference and it's exciting to see how we all can work together in the name of Jesus Christ.
I know sometimes the safety of the boat is very comfortable, even in a storm. I remember several years ago I was boating around in the Florida Keys and I had to tie my boat off on a mangrove root because the wind was blowing so hard my anchor wouldn't hold, and the bilge pump ran continuously, yet being in the boat felt safe, it was actually exciting and quite an adrenaline rush. However, this hymn reminds us that we need to get out of the boat, leave the safety of the boat, and seek other seas.
I ask for your prayers over the next four years as I learn about the Grand Rapids District and the West Michigan Conference. I look forward to leaving my boat behind and seeking new seas as we grow together, become vital, and reach out to those around us and the world in the name of Jesus. I read a quote once that said, "When you feel like you are drowning in life by worry, your life guard walks on water." I also know that when we seek other seas, Jesus is our beacon in the lighthouse of life. Will you join me, and seek other seas, with Jesus by your side? I pray that you do.
Helen Reid, Grand Rapids District Lay Leader.