Deep WatersWithout a doubt, my mother’s love language is gifts. She often will surprise us with little gifts that will encourage us in our walks with God: books, cds, audio devotionals, little trinkets, etc. Its really not that surprising to be pulled into the front room of my parents house and have a little gift waiting to be opened. So when I opened the Lifeway Women set of audio devotionals, I thanked her and took the gift to my car.
It was several days later before I opened the plastic wrapping and stuck the cds in my player. I listened to Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Vicki Courtney, Jennifer Rothschild, and several others. But there was one I was really excited to listen to and when her 10 minute segment was over, I listened to it again. Then a third, and fourth time. In fact, whenever it comes to mind, I hit play and I listen to Angie Smith’s devotional; I have it almost memorized by now. In it, she shares the story of losing her baby girl just hours after she’s born. Her vulnerability and pain are tangible, as is the hope and lessons she learned in that time. This section in particular stands out to me…
And I think in my mind, what I’ve started to realize is it’s this image of life on a seashore and not out in the deep, where things are confusing and threatening and scary. I just wanted to hide out from it all and create these fictious worlds where everything was safe. And when Audrey died, something in me snapped. I’d just been thrown into the deep end, completely unprepared. It was the scariest, most awful, and beautifully devastating time of my life.
Because when I found myself out of my comfort zone, in a place where my feet could not touch the bottom anymore, I saw His face. I saw a side of Jesus I had never seen in my life. And I feel like He whispered to me in that season, “Angie, you’ve been making sandcastles your whole life and even when the water comes in, you’ve let yourself become frightened. But Love, I live in the deep. You can’t fall in love with me from the seashore. It’s scary and its upside down, but you’ve got to move away from what’s safe to really see me.”
I do this. All the time. I want my Jesus to be packed into a box. A box that will keep Him (and me) safe and out of harms way. A box that fits my idea of Jesus, that fits my beliefs and ideals, where I can have all the answers. I never gave my safe, little world, the “safe” Jesus a second glance.
Until this devotional.
It uprooted my belief system, it turned it upside down, and I’m still trying to catch my breath. The Jesus of my box is NOT the Jesus of the Bible. He requires a lot more faith, a lot more risk than what I’ve been willing to give.
In June, I posted about IF: as soon as they announced their vision. When I linked to it from my FB profile, a dear friend pointed me in the direction of Hillsong and their song titled “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”.
I often wonder what God is up to when I see a repeated lesson happening in my life. I’ve been around the block a time or two with God that when He repeats Himself, I know I’d better be paying attention. There’s a reason God is directing me and my belief system to trust Him in deep waters.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the lyrics…
I’m reminded of Peter, when Jesus invited him to walk with Him on the water. (Coincidentally another lesson involving water. Or not a coincidence. You decide.) A storm had risen and the waves were crashing against the boat, when they saw Jesus walking towards them on the water. Peter didn’t believe it was really Jesus and asked for permission to walk out to him. Jesus told him to come, and he did. It wasn’t until Peter removed his eyes from Jesus that he began to sink. It wasn’t until Peter focused more on the storm, instead of Jesus, that his unbelief brought on his drowning.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:31, NLT
I don’t want a God I can explain. I don’t want a God that fits in my box or a God that I only bring out in times of trial. I don’t want a God that is stagnant and unmoving. I want a God that is alive and working in me, in this generation, at this time, now. And if that means my perception of God is turned upside down and brings me into deep waters, then I WANT that.
I’m terrified of the unknown. I’m scared of not having solid ground under my feet, of not being sure-footed, of not knowing my next step. But I think I’m more scared of not knowing who God wholly is, or living within my self-contained walls. I also know that I’ve been holding back. I haven’t been “all in” regarding my faith. I’ve put restrictions, disclaimers, and parameters on the scenarios in which I’ll obey, on the Truths I’ll believe. I haven’t been “all in” because I’m still focused on the storm. I’m still putting more trust in myself, than in God. The proof is that I’ve been living on the seashore, instead of living out in the deep.
God is asking something of me. Who do I believe He is? He’s been revealing Himself bit-by-tiny-bit. And I’m discovering a God that is huge and deep and exciting and unexplainable. To follow God, wherever He might lead me, is a wildly adventurous time because I don’t know what He’s going to ask of me. But I know He’s taking me into deep waters, into the places where I can’t touch the bottom. A place in which I have no choice but to trust Him there.