Leaving The Shallows
When my kids where young and we spent a lot of time as a family at lakes and at the ocean, I was always shouting out to them to “stay in the shallows.” Why? Because it is a safe place for young children to play.
As new believers we do the same thing in our infant state. We start small by playing “in the shallows” of God’s love. There we begin to learn His ways, His faithfulness, His character and His truths. Every once in a while new believers go immediately to the deep waters but often end up disillusioned or overcome because true faith requires knowing the One that you are putting your faith in.
I often see many believers (who have walked with God for many years) “stay living in the shallows” their entire lives. They know God, they know His promises and they have seen His faithfulness yet they still want to play it safe. Fear of the “deep end” keeps them in shallow places.
I was definitely one of those young believers that needed a constant lifeguard because I was never satisfied with the shallows and was constantly jumping into the deep end without knowing how to truly depend on Him. My strength was my source in those days and it rarely lasted very long before I found myself sinking and drowning in my soul (thank God for rescue angels and friends!).
I have now walked with Jesus as my Savior for 38 years (and four years more “exploring if I should commit). About 25 years ago my husband and I knew it was time to dive into the deep end of faith— we were ready to find Him there. The difference was that we had learned that “in our weakness He manifests His strength!” We understood that we were about to be made very weak and come to the end of our strength so that we could learn to rely fully upon His strength. We knew it would hurt and stretch us but we knew the discover of Him was worth it!
Even more than the natural risks we were began taking 25 years ago (by moving to another country, leaving everyone we knew and loved, leaving the familiar; leaving the shallows)— the risk of facing things being completely out of our control and coming to the end of our strengths was what sobered me the most. But it was at the end of my ability to control my life and circumstances that I began becoming intimately acquainted with His loving faithfulness. It was at the end of my soul’s need to understand and comprehend that I began to learn and experience “the peace of God that exceeded my understanding.” And, it was at the end of my physical, emotional and spiritual strength that I was weak enough to find His strength that comes with great power!
Sometimes I wonder to myself, “Why don’t you just stay in the shallows where it is safe?” But in the shallows are not where faith is needed, my love is tested and my weakness made strong by His strength. It is not where dependency is so tested that it turns into intimacy. It is not where “oneness with God” is made manifest in my life.
There is a time, when we are babies in Christ, that we “play in the shallows” so that we begin to become acquainted with who He is; because those formative days are needed to know how to live the depths. Knowing Him and His ways are vital because your soul must learn to depend upon His Spirit that lives within you. But as we grow we outgrow the shallows and must venture into deeper places.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
There is risk in living in the deep places, not visiting or occasionally jumping in for a momentary plunge, but actually living there. It is a risk because it requires full surrender! It requires not playing it safe, not being able to figure it out, not comprehending it and not being in control. It will take you to weakness so that you can discover true strength. Not your strength but His.
All of these requirements do not equal misery (as I once believed) because when God takes over what happens is that you come into true dependency which ushers in true rest for your soul, true peace that silenced the warfare of doubt, true joy that no longer depends upon circumstances and an “awe and wonder” as you watch His strength do what you could never do!
I love “gifts and talents”; they’re beautiful and amazing, but they will only highlight “you” until they are fully surrendered to Him in the deep places. Just look at Hollywood! So many gifted and talented people who have gained fame but become completely lost in the wreckage of their own limited strength. I have spent years traveling and being acquainted with amazingly “gifted and talented” believers (even ones who are well-known); but only a remnant of them have moved beyond their “gifting” to discover Him in absolute surrender. Their identity had to die to discover His within them. Many who didn’t learn this have fallen away.
I love surrounding myself with people who have learned to live in the depths; beyond the place that they are in control. These people don’t put on airs, pretenses or masks. They don’t jostle for position because they have gone so low that only God is lifted up. They call me deeper and make me aware of the places that I’ve yet to surrender. They have been made into His likeness and I see His image within them.
The shallows aren’t bad when you are a child, but don’t stay there. If you desire true joy, rest, peace and love you must come to the end of circumstantial joy, rest, peace and love. Intimacy is waiting for every believer but it is found in surrender. It is found in letting go of “you” to grab hold of Him.
He’s inviting you now, “Come deeper My child.”
“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” Psalm 42:7
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