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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Risk In the Real World

(c) Staci Stallings, 2002

And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon Peter answered, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break... --Luke 5:4-7

'Put out into the deep water.' How many of us never take the time to really understand the significance of these words? We are too busy floating along and trying to stay in control on the shallow water to even think of putting out to the deep water. But why did Jesus tell the apostles to put out to the deep water?

Simple. That's where the fish were. To understand why, you must understand the principles and the assumptions that the apostles were making. First, at this time, there were no motors. When you were on the water, you were at the mercy of the wind and the elements, and the further out you went, the more this was true and the less the chances that you were going to make it back to the shore. In fact, it was the fishermen who were the real risk-takers in Jesus' time. These were men who finessed the boundaries of safety just to do their jobs on an everyday basis.

So, when Jesus told Peter to put out into the deep water, Peter knew well what the deep water represented-risk. Ultimate risk. Death if the winds caught the boat and they couldn't get back to the shore. The very act of obeying the command shows Peter's faith. What he couldn't know was what the Lord already did. Every other fisherman in the region had already fished in the shallow water, it was out in the deep that the overwhelming quantities could be found.

This lesson is no less true today and was recently brought into focus for me in a very modern-day way. As a webmaster, one of my tasks is to get people to know my site exists. In doing this, I have taken several avenues-one of which is having an on-going link campaign. In layman's terms, this means going out surfing for hours, searching for sites to approach to ask if they would be willing to link to my site, and thus give surfers one more way to find me. It is a time-consuming and very often frustrating undertaking.

Because I write Inspirational Romance, I try to contact sites that fit into one of the following categories: Christian, women, writing, and romance. Now, let's talk risk. On one side, I have people who are adamant about traditional values, family-friendly messages, and staunch, unbending Christianity. On the other side I have romance sites which often bend toward decidedly un-Christian values. I find myself on the tightrope in between, wishing that both could understand how close they really are. In our society we have unfortunately gotten the message that romance and God are mutually exclusive. The reason of course is that romance is equated with sex (generally outside of marriage) and God condemns these kinds of practices. The very fact that I choose to write Inspirational Romance should tell you that I don't buy into this myth. To me, there is nothing more holy than a man and woman who have committed themselves to each other through God's love.
For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.
--Ephesians 5: 31

The problem is too many equate romance with prurient sex, base the opening days of a relationship on sex, and believe that they have to because "everybody else does." Thus, no one puts God into the relationship until they are ready to get married. Then they want the big church wedding, and the soul-fulfilling notion of standing before God and man and commit themselves to each other-although they haven't bothered to acknowledge God's presence in the relationship until that moment. And we wonder why the divorce rate is high. Wouldn't it be far better to promote a message that encourages couples to invite God into the relationship from the very beginning, trusting in Him to guide both partners, and believing that if it is meant to work in His great plan, it will? This is the message that I'm trying to get out.

However, this is not a message that is even an option on many sites labeled "romance." Nonetheless, because I believe this is an option that no one should go into a relationship without being exposed to, I try to put my site link on pages that promote romance, which means they are listed on pages with the romance equals sex idea. This upsets some of the Christian sites that I approach. Now I'm not saying this message is on my site, it is in linking to sites that have this on their sites that I get into trouble.

Of course, my other option is to absolutely not allow any site with anything resembling this message linking with mine (knowing that my link won't be on their site because of this policy and thus will not be on many if any romance sites). Thus, when someone searches for romance, their options will be only those sites which relate to pleasure at its basest-with no mention of God or how truly beautiful real romance with God in the center can be. Maybe it's me, but I think this is sad.

And so, I am left with the choice of preaching only to the choir or going out in the deep, knowing the risks I'm taking but feeling that Christ is in fact in my boat and will get me safely back to shore. It's a risk I'm willing to take for all those poor souls out there who see no connection between God and romance. To me, that would be a terrible place to live.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go deep, girl. God will bless you for it.