“Sure I may be tuckered, and I may give out, but I won’t give IN!” (Molly Brown, from “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”)
In the mental and spiritual circles I travel in, we focus a lot on discouragement, sadness, grief and such. The most-read article I have written this year is titled, “The Sinking Soul.”
And for good reason. We live in a broken world. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. A significant part of the New Testament was written to people who face severe, mind-numbing hostility and pain. And left to our own devices, the devil has sinking souls for breakfast.
But maybe it’s time for a different look. Instead of doing a post-mortem on a discouraged heart, maybe we should take a look at the ones that refuse to sink. Maybe it’s time for a closer look at an unsinkable, buoyant heart.
Buoyant hearts have an active imagination. Call it vision, call it dreams, they have the capacity to see beyond the misery of what their senses tell them.
Not that they live in denial! Anything but. The people that James and Peter wrote to had seen their faces rubbed in reality as they had lost their homes, many of their friends and family members due to persecution. And now they were living as resident aliens in somebody else’s town. Yet they clung to a tenacious vision of a soon-coming King and a life-changing message of grace. Spaces and distance, losses and longing couldn’t mask the relentless capacity to define reality in terms of hope and vision.
Show me somebody who is unsinkable, and I’ll show you somebody who actively nourishes their capacity to dream and hope.
Buoyant hearts have courageous – and contagious – faith. I don’t mean souped-up positive thinking or “faith in faith.” I mean a belief that shapes their willingness to take action. I’m talking about the kind of faith in God that is tested through the years, and only gets purer.
“But my faith is a private, personal thing.” Uh huh. And if you aren’t acting on it, your “faith” is a dead thing. You’ll be sinking soon enough.
“But my faith has been shaken.” I understand. So maybe you don’t have the faith to get you to next month, or even tomorrow. But maybe if you focused on what you still believe instead of what you are questioning, you may find faith enough to check back in an hour.
Show me somebody who is unsinkable, and I’ll show you somebody with faith enough to move the biggest mountain they will ever face – their own hearts.
Compelled by Love
Buoyant hearts have a deep capacity to be compelled by love. Sometimes when hope sees dimly and faith has given in to fear, the one thing that keeps the heart from sinking is tenacious love.
This isn’t the stuff of sentimental drivel or infatuation. This is a love that endures past mere feelings. It’s steadfastly patient. Ruthlessly kind. Jealousy-free and humble, and relentlessly forgiving. Yes, it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
This love never fails.
There is precious little that’s sexy about that. But there’s a lot that supernatural about it. This is love for the long haul. Anchored in truth (or should I say, THE Truth?), this kind of love continues to reach out, continues to wait, and refuses to let go.
Show me somebody who is unsinkable, and I’ll show you somebody who can love beyond betrayal or rejection, and who will continue to reach out, even when they’re pushed away.
Living in the Tension
If you and I could talk about your life right now, I have no idea how you would describe it. Maybe you’re cruising along on the S.S. Lollipop, racing on a speedboat, or sailing off into the sunset.
Maybe you’ve sprung an irritating leak, run out of fuel, or lost the wind in your sails.
Maybe you’ve hit an iceberg, and you’re going down.
When Peter wrote to a group of believers who had collided with a hostile world and a painful life, he described the tension every believer lives in. In 1 Peter 1:1, he described them as aliens, and as chosen. And therein lies the tension. We are aliens – homeless, rootless, and strangers in this world – who have also been chosen by God. (Have you ever thought… “Lord, can’t you pick somebody else?).
But in that hostile world, he has given us the capacity to walk in a living hope, a faith that is more precious than gold, and a love that drives us throughout time and eternity. It was the same hope, faith and love that drove Jesus past the cross and out of the tomb.
And it’s the same hope, faith and love that will keep you from sinking… even if everyone around you abandons you, or abandons their faith.
Dream. Believe. Love. You’re going to make it. One step at a time.
And if you’re just convinced you’re going down for the last time, may I point you to a Water-Walker who’s an expert at turning sinking souls into wave dancers. And He can do it with one word: “Come.”