So, a couple of weeks' ago, I got a surprise invitation: did I want to join a few ladies for a day away at the Dead Sea, the following day?
Like, duh. Of course I did.
I have been needing a break for ages, and the Dead Sea sounded like just the ticket. You know what you do there: you put cucumbers on your eyes; you read newspapers as you serenely float around; you get to really relaaaaaaax.
Except it wasn't quite like that. First of all, the place was heaving with tourists, mugging it up for the camera man they'd brought with to record every detail of their vacation. Every where I looked there was some massive cleavage struggling to break free; there were people smearing themselves with mud; and there was lots of 'look at me' behaviour going on.
Hmmm. Not so relaxing.
Also not so easy to float, as I kept drifting off into the middle of the smearing mud party, and you can't really relax when you keep bumping straight into a bunch of people you'd never recognise if you ever saw them with their clothes on.
I made my way to the opposite side of the bathing area, and tried the whole 'relaxed floating' thing again.
Now, I hit a different problem: I was so tensed up and stressed, I couldn't actually let go enough to float. Wow, who knew?
I kind of managed a half-sitting position when one of the women I was with asked me: "Why can't you let go? What's stopping you from just shoving everything on God, and trusting Him that He's going to look after you?'
I'm usually the one saying things like that, so to get it back was a novel experience. But it also underlined the point that much as my head liked to think I was 'letting go' and 'letting God', my body knew different.
It took me a full half an hour to 'let go' enough to float with my head touching the water, and it was almost painful to unfold and unhunch, because I realized I'd been carrying my control-freak stress around with me for decades.
Was I really going to trust God to not float me into one of the man-mountains smearing mud on the opposite side of the shore? Was I going to let go enough to stop worrying about all the salt water getting in my ears, or my eyes?
Questions, questions. And I spent the rest of the afternoon contemplating them, as I dried out on the beach.
For sure, letting go is the key to staying relaxed and happy. Equally for sure - it's incredibly hard to do in practise, whatever you might be spouting in theory.
My trip to the Dead Sea ended up being a pretty humbling experience, in many ways. But it also taught me a profound lesson about life:
If you let go, you will float, you will feel good, and you will relax.
But you can only let go and achieve all of these things once you genuinely trust that God's going to really keep you afloat. And that is the work of a lifetime.
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