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14 August 2008

The Top 5 Things I Learned From SCUBA

A group of us recently began to pursue our PADI Open Water Diver Certification through JR Aquatic Center in Niles, MI.

It's something I have wanted to do since high school. In fact I even signed up to do it in college - only to back out due to the cost. So it was a no-brainer when the group of guys agreed to do it together at a discounted rate.

Then throw in the fact that for some odd reason watching Shark Week actually makes me want to go diving in the ocean! And I'm sold on SCUBA.

But this post isn't about the cool stuff you get to do as a SCUBA Diver. It's about the crazy real life applications I've learned from taking the class.

Here are the Top 5 things I've learned from SCUBA so far:

  1. Fun Stuff is Expensive: From Golf to Ice Hockey, Snowboarding to Rock Climbing, Skydiving to Paintball, you just keep putting out the money. All of these things require "gear" and if it's called "gear" it will cost you. But then again no one claimed that fun would be free. Sure you can have fun during free activities, but I'm betting you won't be 60ft under water...
  2. You Need Your Own Gear: I'm not saying you should never rent SCUBA gear, but it has become very evident that if something fits well, you'll feel more comfortable and be able to get more out of the thing you're doing. Example: If your mask doesn't fit right you'll have more water in it than air...
  3. Learn Slow to Stay Safe: I don't think PADI says it this way, but this is the way I understand these requirements. In SCUBA there are depth maximums that need to be observed based on your level of experience. Open Water & Recreational Divers should stay above 60ft. Advanced Open Water Divers should remain above 100ft. And no one should go below 130ft. without some crazy training in deep sea diving.
  4. Rules Are Important: You don't realize how technical SCUBA is until you take the class. Most people have heard about things like decompression, but once in the class you realize that by entering the underwater world you subject yourself to a set of constants (like gravity) that require rigorous attention to detail. Dive charts, proper equipment checks, compass navigation, neutral buoyancy, nitrogen narcosis equalization and the list goes on. Because of this you practice numerous skills like clearing your mask, sharing oxygen, taking equipment off underwater, etc.
  5. Seriously Fun Stuff Can Be Life Threatening: SCUBA Diving has it's risks. And while hundreds of thousands of people SCUBA each year without a problem, the potential is there. Potential for problems that can lead to death. All the more reason to learn the rules and follow them.
Then realize that these 5 things also apply to our spiritual lives:
  1. Fun Stuff is Expensive: What are we willing to give sacrificially for? It's one thing to say we are Christians, or that we want to help the poor. But are we tithing? Do we give above and beyond to help those in need? Truth is, if we want real purpose in life we'll pay for it.
  2. You Need Your Own Gear: In life you can't count on the work of others (spiritually speaking). You need your own "gear." The Bible refers to it as "full armor of God." And we get this armor through prayer, Bible study, being part of a local church, etc. But you HAVE to do it for yourself. It's ok to help others along the way - but at some point they will have to get their own "gear."
  3. Learn Slow to Stay Safe: People can only handle so much information at a time. A new believer needs the small packet of info called "Giving your life to Christ" first and then maybe later will come to appreciate the small packet called "Eschatology." Dumping the entirety of the Christian life on a new believer is like a green diver going down to 130ft. on his or her first dive. Both are doable, but the potential for something bad to happen is huge...
  4. Rules Are Important: You typically think of rules as things to be broken. But 99% of the time rules are meant to keep us safe. Man-made rules are sometimes questionable, but God's rules are without a doubt for our own good - even when we can't see them that way. In SCUBA, the rule "Never stop breathing" doesn't seem important since we hold our breath out of water without problem. But try it under water and your lungs can explode...
  5. Seriously Fun Stuff Can Be Life Threatening: Living a life with purpose can be dangerous. It means having faith in the unseen, putting time and energy into things the world views as a waste of time and at some point may even cost us our lives. But we know that it's all worth it. Given the fact that this life is but a scratch on the surface of eternity, we can lead this dangerous life with a real sense of security.
In a couple weeks we take a road trip to Ohio for our open water dives. Hopefully I'll learn at least another 5 things from that. We'll see...