It is a humbling thing to look upon the ocean, to see the water meet the sky at the horizon and realize its immensity. Likewise, looking down into the waters, there is something unsettling about not being able to see the bottom. The ocean is so vast and unsearchable that it can hide entire pods of whales in the folds of its cloak. Although this vastness disturbs us, it also lends a certain thrill to the encounter as well. Into this great unknown numerous mariners have launched themselves. One may well say that this traversing of the ocean is a common thread that binds all of them together. Whether they enter the sea as soldiers, merchants, explorers, etc. they all share this relationship with the depths. It may be said that Christians are like mariners. Instead of being defined by a relationship to a vast and unsearchable sea, we are defined by a relationship to a vast and unsearchable God.
Mariners are made so by their launching out onto the sea. We cannot accurately call “mariner” anyone who does not travel upon the sea. Although a person may be a very learned expert on the sea and able to deliver many erudite lectures upon the subtleties of navigating it, they are not a mariner. If a person spends a great deal of time observing the sea from the shore and even venturing upon the coastal waters on a regular basis, they still do not have that relationship with the sea that comes only from setting out into its vast expanse. The same is true of Christians. There is a profound difference in relationship between knowing about God and knowing God. It is very possible to live our lives around God without ever living them in God. To live our lives in God, committing ourselves entirely to Him and holding nothing back from Him, is what makes a Christian a Christian. It is a lot like setting out into the unknown of the depths. We do not and cannot know exactly what awaits us. However, we do know that God is a guide, a shepherd, and our Father when we enter into this spiritual voyage.
We are called to embark on a voyage that will change us and bring us ever closer to God. This requires us, however, to leave the shoreline of our securities and sins. We might go to church and Bible studies each week, but unless we have set out onto the spiritual depths, it is no different than frequenting the same inns and as mariners and claiming their title for ourselves. To leave behind our self-justification and self-worship is frightening at first because we are left in unfamiliar territory. We find, though, that we have actually found the freedom to truly live. The unknowable reaches of God and His unsearchable depths are then seen, not as walls and barriers, but as the dawns of renewed hope and joy in the Lord.