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Living in the Shallows

Jesus invites us to plunge in, to go deep, to experience Him in all His fullness. But I think we find it easier to just skim . . . to slum along in the shallows. I know I do.

It’s hard when I can’t “see” what He’s doing. When everything looks like it is tinged with corruption, when it seems like the darkness is snuffing out all light and evil is winning every victory.

When all I see is pain and suffering, I can lose sight of what I know to be true. 

I don’t like walking through seasons of darkness and suffering, but I think part of going deeper with Jesus includes experiencing the fellowship of sufferings. And that will include exposure to the brutality of evil. I hate that part.

When I enter the shallow end of the pool, everything is easy. I’m not in fear of drowning; the steps leading out of the pool are easily accessible. The water is calm and easy to manage—I’m not having to fight to keep my head afloat in a 3-foot environment.

Living in the shallows is easy.

What gets more challenging is when I move out to the deep end. I lose my footing, there’s no longer anything solid beneath me . . . I’m trusting that I’ll stay afloat, but sometimes it feels I could easily drown. The solid surface at the bottom of the pool, while maybe only feet away, seems as if it is miles beyond my reach.

I’m in a place like that right now. I’ve moved beyond the shallows, and I’ve left much of the familiar, not at the other end of the pool but, on a far distant shore. I’m in that uncomfortable place where the safety of the solid ground feels as though it is miles away. But there is one thing that is holding me secure: God’s lovingkindness.

No matter how far from the familiar shore I’m being thrust. God is not changing. It’s as though He’s my unseen life preserver. I know He has brought me out to the deep waters for a good purpose, but I keep looking back to the shore, my heart keeps longing for the shallows, for the old and familiar. But He’s pushing me out to the beyond.

And I know that no matter how frightening this feels, He will not forsake me, He will not abandon me, He will not allow me to drown. I don’t want to stay in the shallows, because I know He will teach me things in the deep waters I could never learn in the shallows. I am clinging to His steadfast love. That is my unseen life preserver.

“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.” (Psalm 107:43)