Don Goulding - Blog

Below the Waterline

orcaThings that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NET_FL)

Twin rushes of air erupted from the cobalt sea. My kayak was a mile from the shore of my home in Washington State when two killer whales breached. They exhaled and thrust their dorsal fins above the water. My heart pounded as I took in every bend and scar on the triangular fins. The magnificent creatures dove again and I made an adrenaline pumped race into their swirling water.

Then it hit me. I only saw the seven-foot dorsal fins and not the enormous animals below the waterline. Alone in the open water, I didn’t want to run into whales, only to see more dorsals.

I often approach the crucifixion of Jesus like I approached those whales. I want to know the historic facts of his death and resurrection but I run from an encounter that could destroy the old me. A safe redemption at the surface is fine but don’t take me down to where my heart must reform.

Instead of paddling off to secondary doctrines, prophecies, and worship styles, it’s time to man-up and meet the enormity of the gospel. By the discipline of meditation, the Holy Spirit carries my heart to depths where I can’t depend on physical life, to where love becomes the medium around me, and the reality that God died for men is shocking in its magnitude. 

Beneath the waterline of grace, I can’t contribute to salvation, defend myself, or even breathe. I can only stare in wonder at God’s death for me. Minuscule flailing sinner that I am, I lose every hope of survival except by the beneficence of the whale before me.

That massive carnivorous entity might easily swallow me. Instead, he nudges me to the surface. When I break through, I have something new, not more head knowledge but more love. For who can be spared by that majestic creature and not love in return?

Prayer: Spirit of God, embolden my heart to plunge the depths of grace.


Death to Death

WolfInSheepsClothing2[We are] always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:10 (NETFull)

Life throbs with dignity while death feeds on desecration. Life and death are two great enemies and my body is their battleground. They are both inside me plotting the demise of one another. Only one can win for eternity.

The death of Jesus was not death to life, it was death to death. He died to defeat death, both at the final resurrection and now in my body. I am to carry his death to death and apply it to whatever will not enter heaven. Pride will never make it into God’s presence, so if I humble myself now, then death dies and life lives.

Wars are won by a series of victorious battles and triumph only comes to me as I choose life in the daily skirmishes. Death ruthlessly dresses up as life. It flays a living gift and pulls on its skin to pose as life. Family, jobs, food, ministry—anytime I concentrate on a gift more than on God, then death is cloaked as life. The insidious goal is for me to worship temporal gifts until I’m attached to them when they burn in the last day.

This is a bloodthirsty war. At each offering of false life, I must club it over the head with the reminder that only Jesus with me, in me, and through me will satisfy. Everything else is death and must be put to death in my heart.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me carry around your death to the things of death.


Hummer Scrooge

Annas hummingbirdSell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out - a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33 (NETFull)

My esteem of hummingbirds is downgraded. I used to be enchanted by their reaching beaks, emerald backs, and shimmering red throats. Zipping about the flora, they were miniature ornaments of joy on God’s Christmas tree.

Then we hung a feeder by our window. One little guy took to the nectar with enthusiasm and moved his permanent address to our yard. My delight began to wane when he accosted visitors to one of his six feeding ports, including me when I refilled the bottle. I nicknamed him Hummer Scrooge.

My old nature easily slips into a hummingbird mentality. On the outside I act cute and friendly, on the inside I want the best and I want it for myself. I accost any who would dare ask about my overabundance, never mind that God provides it all.

I never found life in that place and I’m not going back there. I’m only open to receive love and laughter when I give my life away. I don’t mean doling out surplus in a tithe but trusting God until I systematically leverage my physical blessings into the spread grace and truth. It sounds irresponsible to our worldly ears but it’s actually natural, the way we were intended to live.

When I keep a fear of giving too deeply I also keep preoccupied stress. My days are consumed with acquiring and maintaining. Possessions own me while I hide behind the rationalization that one needs to be prudent.

Too many words on this subject is just another dodge of the real point. It’s time we come to the question—Am I acting on Jesus’ statement to sell my possessions and give to the poor, or am I another Hummer Scrooge?

Prayer: Father, help me give like you.


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