At Gateway Church in South Austin, I asked two of our leaders: “What’s Going On? What is God sharing with you about our community?”
Sulinda McManus, our Next Gen Kids Director and Jamie Schwarz, our Gateway Restore Pastor and I shared on gaining a new perspective.
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
Message Notes from Sulinda McManus:
Swimming in Tahoe
One of my favorite times of the year that I look forward to is Summer. I don’t love the heat, but I do like having time to take and enjoy vacation.
Who enjoys going on vacation? I’m glad I’m not alone.
For the last 5 years my husband and I have been vacationing (for a week or two) in Tahoe over the summer and we just love it so much. You’ve got mountains to hike and explore, tall pine trees to stare at for days, and most importantly a lake that is really like no other.
The Lake is known for its crystal clear waters, its temperature (as my husband always likes to point out). The water is so clear that you can drop a white plate in the lake and still see it 75 feet down. It’s length of 22 miles, 12 miles wide and its depth unknown .It’s so clear that your depth perception can be way off if you aren’t wearing goggles.
It truly is one of my favorite places to go, for many reasons (hiking, swimming, kayaking) but most importantly it’s a time where I get to sit undistracted and hear from God.
One of my favorite places to go and what has really become an annual stop point is this park called Sand Harbor.
And for years we’ve been going there, and I always have this idea to bring goggles, but I never do. And I just knew that I was missing out on something. So this past Summer we went back, and still I had no goggles. I was so disappointed because there are rock structures and lake life that I wanted to see, but I wouldn’t be able to see clearly without having goggles. So on our last full day we went and bought goggles and went back to Sand Harbour.
As I put on my newly purchased goggles, I began swimming around like a fish. I discovered that for however many years we’ve always been to this place, I was missing out on the wonder and beauty of what was below the surface.
As I began to swim around several people would yell out to me asking if I could tell them where the nearest rock was for them to be able to stand on. (Again, the clarity of the water is so deceptive that you can’t tell if a rock is 5 feet or 15 feet below the surface). So naturally, I would pop my head in the water to find them a rock. After several rounds of this. I started asking people, “do you want to use my goggles, it’s amazing what you can see down here”. (Each time each person said: No.”) After being rejected several times, on one occasion the same person who rejected using my goggles would ask me where another rock was for them to stand on.
I took a little break from swimming, and found myself sitting on one of those very rocks that I led people to and as I was sitting and enjoying the sound of the lake I hear the Lord say,
“How you feel about people not using your goggles, Is how I feel when I’m rejected.”
And when I heard that, It felt like a punch in the gut.
They were already in the water, wearing their swimsuits, ready to swim.
There’s a story in 2 Kings Chapter 6 where Elisha the Prophet is a wanted man by the king of Aram, because he had been letting the King of Israel know that battle plan in which the king of Aram was going to use to harm the people of Israel. He wanted him captured so that wouldn’t happen. So, he sent an army after Elisha.
When Elisha’s servant woke up the next morning he went outside and found this army surrounding the area.
2 Kings 6:14 – 16
14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.
16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
Why bring this passage up? Because It gives us a good picture of what our human eyes can only see. Our human eyes see worry, opposition, obstacles. Our human eyes can only see what our human eyes can see, can sometimes keep us stuck or maybe even feeling outnumbered like Elisha’s servant…what we see is limited.
But it’s also this beautiful image of how God has more for us then we can see or even imagine and when we start looking with His eyes maybe even his goggles, we become unstoppable.
The truth is that JUST LIKE Elisha’s servant all of us are standing somewhere, seeing something.
So the question is where are you standing, and what are you seeing?
As I look back on this trip I really feel like I got this picture of how in different moments of our life we can identify with where we are standing.
Standing on the outside of the lake
Around here at gateway we say no perfect people allowed. That this is a place where you can truly come with your questions and doubts. So standing on the outside of the lake is experiencing the beauty and taking it all in. You might just be getting your feet wet, and your body is just not ready for the coldness of the water just yet. And it might even be a little too deep for you, and that’s ok.
Scripture tells us in Jeremiah 29:11-13 that:
God has a plan for you…for each of us. And if we seek him with all our heart we will find him.
If you find that this is you, keep coming, keep asking questions.
At one point you took the plunge and stood on a rock, and for some reason or another things might have become a little challenging for you, uncomfortable even. Similar to those people at the lake asking where the closest rock was – Often times we want to experience what someone else might be experiencing, but we aren’t willing to take the CONTINUOUS plunge. Or maybe you’re just comfortable with the way our walk with God looks. Sometimes it even feels like a safer – more convenient move for someone other than God to direct us. And we find ourselves stuck and limited.
And if this is you, keep pushing forward its when we push through the tension we can find freedom and a life of fullness.
Swimming and diving deep
FOR OTHERS OF US, WE ARE PURSUING GOD BOLDLY, BUT Are you inviting others to come along with you, are you sharing your goggles so that others can go deep with you?, or are you hoarding your God experiences to yourself. We don’t come to experience the fullness of Christ on our own. We need like minded people to help us, to encourage us, to fight and pray for us.
My prayer for us as a community is that we would seek a deeper relationship with Christ, because I truly believe he wants to use us in a powerful way to BE his carriers of hope, freedom, and truth.
18 And may you have the power to understand, AS ALL GOD’S PEOPLE SHOULD, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to UNDERSTAND FULLY. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
God Mourns For His People When We Reject Him
One thing I didn’t mention about this year’s trip to Tahoe was that it came at a weird time. I had just gotten back from Israel a week prior, visiting our ministry partner who does work with reconciliation. And honestly I had some ideas even my own vision of what my time in Israel was going to be like, but the Lord gave me a new set of goggles. He revealed his heart to me in how he mourns for his people. Not just his chosen people, but for all of us.
He mourns when we try and do things our own way in our own power instead of coming to him because he’s a good father.
He mourns for us when we settle for good things, when he has great things for us if we just dive deeper.
He desires us to be whole. To go deeper with him. To experience him like never before. To see him more fully and to hear him more clearly.
I believe God wants us to know THAT IF WE DON’T HAVE HIS EYES WE WILL NOT SEE IT, AND WE WILL MISS IT!
What is preventing you from going deeper, what’s keeping you from having eyes to see what God desires for you?