Free divers with no means of propulsion assistance swim to depths of 88 meters (over 288 feet) and return to the surface in one breath requiring the diver to hold that breath 4-5 minutes. Under normal conditions permanent damage to the brain can occur in as little as three minutes without oxygen. The physiological changes required in the body to accomplish these amazing feats are extraordinary. The heart rate slows as low as 25-30bpm, blood vessels shrink, additional red blood cells are released carrying more oxygen, blood flow is limited to the arms and legs, and most importantly blood plasma fills up blood vessels in the lung to reduce residual volume. Without this adaptation the lung would wrap into itself becoming permanently damaged. The body also adapts to the increased carbon-dioxide levels. The typical training plan for free divers often includes walking 400 meters (nearly a quarter mile) or climbing numerous flights of stairs in a single breath.
Clearly this extreme sport requires incredible mental and physical discipline. The element of risk that exists is also very high in this sport while having a very small margin for error. However, because of this intense discipline free divers are able to accomplish with little risk what is impossible to you or me. At the same time, these well prepared and equipped athletes explore the deep blue of creation seeing and doing things that you or I will never experience, like hitching a ride on a beluga whale or staring eye-to-eye with a 6-foot 300lbs yellowfin tuna 200 feet below the water’s surface.
As believers in Christ we have access to the deep things of God through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinth 2:10). However, in order to create this depth of intimacy we must put into practice intense and focused training similar to that of the free diver. As we passionately pursue Jesus, the Way, the Truth & the Life, we our conditioning our spirit man. When we endeavor to be still and release the burdens of the day, or take control over our body by fasting, or commit to extended periods of prayer and listening for the Lord we are training our mind and body to do what is not natural. These and other spiritual disciplines will lead us to the deep things of the Father. Then just like the free diver we will experience amazing wonders so incredible they captivate people’s attention when we describe them.
The world of free diving is a small and extremely tight knit family. They share extraordinary abilities and have unbelievable testimonies. So too is the family of believers whose passion and zeal for the Lord can offer these same qualities. But the extraordinary abilities and unbelievable testimonies we experience will be radical salvations and astonishing miracles! As true followers of Jesus we aren’t called to simply tread water, we are called to dive deep! So grab your gear, for deep calls unto deep.