This blog post was originally published November 14, 2014–just seven months after we moved our family from the USA to Germany to serve as full-time missionaries.
Have you ever seen The Abyss? It sounds like a horror movie, but it’s really just a sci-fi look at ocean exploration, with a little drama thrown in. I really love sci-fi movies and TV shows—I cut my teeth on Star Wars, and 38 years later still have a taste for the stuff. But anyway—The Abyss. There is a scene about halfway through the movie where one of the veteran explorers has to make a very dangerous descent into the deepest ocean trench there is…and the only way to get down there to complete a risky mission (which may or may not save the crew in the station on the ocean floor above) is to wear an untested prototype suit. The suit looks like a spacesuit for deep sea diving, but it has one über-creepy element involved: breathing liquid. The suit pumps oxygen-rich liquid (looks like clear, pink gel) through the suit, and the inhabitant has to let his lungs fill up with it. Basically, you have to go through drowning in this liquid in order to live and provide the proper resistance to the major PSI on your body so deep underwater.
So, we get to the scene where the explorer puts on his suit. He has his game face on. He knows he is the best one for the mission, and he realizes he might die in several different ways getting there, but game face, nevertheless. The crew help him into the bulky suit and finish by locking his helmet into place. And then they start filling him up with the pink liquid. He is bracing himself, telling himself he can do this. He is ready. He is strong. He feels the liquid pumping through the suit; then the liquid begins to fill his helmet. He holds his breath out of sheer instinct to live, and struggles, not able to let go of the fear of drowning inside a dive suit. He falls backward off his seat, flailing, feeling the fear take over. He fights for a few agonizing minutes against letting the liquid into his nose and mouth, but he is out of air and must inhale something… He is ready to die as he finally sucks in a huge wave of oxygen-rich liquid. But death is not to be found. He opens his eyes, looks around the room in shock that he is not dead, and gives the heartiest silent laugh he can muster through a helmet full of liquid! He made it!
The movie goes on to show his mission to previously unreached depths and his amazing encounters. I won’t give away the ending because maybe you’ll go back and watch a sci-fi movie from 1989…
Why am I recounting this nonsense? Because I’m the guy in the suit. This is the best analogy I can find for how we are adjusting to life and ministry in a foreign place! We understood the gravity of the situation. We knew we were the ones for the job. We feel a sense of duty and the desire to make a sacrifice to save others. But the suit. Whew! Nothing can prepare you for the suit.
Locking your helmet into place, feeling the pink liquid rush in and fill up every space—the change in your hearing, your inability to speak, the adjustment to moving a little heavier. That is exactly what it’s like entering a new culture for the long haul. We still carry our sense of duty, and our passion to fulfill our mission. We are unwaveringly in love with Jesus, our Savior. But we are learning to breathe liquid. Each day it gets a little easier. We’re past the gasping panic phase, but we’re not agile in the suit yet.
We’ll get there. And as we feel more at ease in our new gear, we are encountering some amazing things along the way.
All for the Gospel,
Have you ever felt like you’re about to drown, only to find that the “drowning” was the doorway to your destiny? How do you handle your “drowning” moments?