Floats and Ducks
Floats float. (Surprising, I know.) They sit safely upon the surface of the deep water and hold up whatever sits upon them. That’s their job. And they do it well, unless they’re losing air—then, whatever they’re holding up sinks. (Again… Surprise!)
So, for years I was obsessed with thinking a life of faith should look a certain way. Kinda like the way a brightly colored, perfectly inflated float looks gliding effortlessly upon the water’s surface, bidding any onlooker to hop along for some R&R. Or, maybe more like a well manicured, picture perfect duck. Ducks are born to float. They also look quite pretty while floating. And, well, I always thought a *good* christian should look way more like one of those and way less like one of me. Gliding along this wavy, often breaking over life, calm and seemingly unperturbed by the water or any unknowns existing deep below (floats and ducks and not me)… and, free from any fading or puncture wounds or ruffled feathers (also floats and ducks and definitely not me).
But, Y’all, can I just tell you that obsession nearly killed me?
And to be completely honest, we humans don’t really even respond all that well to people that seem to glide along the surface anyway, do we? So, would I really want my life to ever look like that?
Can’t say I would, honestly. Because we, of the non-inflated, non-feathery variety, actually need to connect with each other and a connection is difficult to maintain with someone who attempts to glide through life. Or, with someone who wouldn’t dare probe the depths with you for fear of looking disheveled or like they’re losing air or just showing themselves to be neither a float nor a duck… but, actually what they are—a human.
Anyway, thankfully I think I’m finally(!) beginning to understand that living a life of faith wasn’t ever intended to look picture perfect or unruffled at all. And that more often than not, it may even look gritty and messy and sometimes leave you speechless or, worse, breathless.
That living out a life of faith really just looks more like someone UN-obsessed with perfection in themselves or others, and very obsessed with meeting and knowing Jesus more—and, more deeply—as the years move along, because that’s really how all true change takes place.
Someone who knows they will never actually be perfect, only perfectly satisfied knowing Jesus accomplished whatever they can’t seem to and is faithful to accomplish all that He began in you. (Y’all, to make complete sense, this last word should probably be “them” however, “you” rhymes, so I kept it because I like to rhyme and maybe you do, too. If so, you’re welcome. If not, re-read the sentence using “them” and stay boring. I mean, keep doing you, Sweet Thing.)
Like someone who’s ultimate goal is to be unafraid of any deep water because there’s also an Anchor (hint: it’s Jesus) provided for much needed rest and steadying and safe keeping. Someone who understands this heavy and certain Anchor serves to sink way down below the surface of the life they see, into the depths of all the bubbling uncertainty and unknown for them, while holding tight and secure what the Anchor is tethered to (another hint: this one’s us). And, someone who wants to trust that even though wild waves and blustery winds may try to have their way—or, even the final say—the strong Anchor keeps them where they should be, connected to what is absolutely sure (a final hint: this “sure” thing is also, most definitely, Jesus).
And, y’all… may I just say, the deep end of faith is really where it’s at. Where it should begin and—hopefully—end in this life!
What is The Deep?
Well, The Deep is where the mystery of God resides. Where Jesus, Himself, resides. It’s where you finally come face to face with the living, saving, merciful, and gracious God. Because, it’s the only place The Cross is truly found. In The Deep you are seen for ALL that you truly are… all the good, bad, and ugly. And because you are truly seen there, it’s the only place you will ever be truly loved, forgiven, sung over, approved of, sourced, and built up to be what you’re called to be.
But, here’s the thing… The Deep is also where the hard and heavy in life must be faced. Where the source of our greatest fears and shame live. It’s all the places the enemy—and our own selves—shout the loudest about each and every one of our iniquities and insecurities and inabilities. The Deep holds all those unmentionables that war against us and cause us to want to control, overreact, overcompensate, over-anything… or, to lash out, hide out, and scream out. Loudly. Sometimes way, way too out loudly. (Or, maybe that’s just me.)
Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7)
How do we get to The Deep?
Well, in my opinion, The Deep only really requires three things from us: at least one drop each of faith and humility, plus an overflow of time. I will offer us this, this, and this to back that up. (Another note, just because I’m clearly in that kind of mood: I’d very much welcome more verses that may better describe my point. I always need help in this area. Also, I know I’ve swapped analogies with that last verse. Let’s just call it poetic license. Or, maybe ADD. My point is, attaching ourselves to Jesus in any form, and especially allowing ourselves to be pruned by our Gardener, will take faith, humility, and boat loads of time, too.)
Now, I have found that the simplicity of the above equation may actually make us believe that achieving access to The Deep is harder than it’s supposed to be, likely because we prideful people can very often complicate, or over-spiritualize faith. But, ultimately, it really does only require offering a bit of faith-filled humility and the sacrifice of our time—which also happens to be our most precious resource and, let’s face it, what we all tend to hoard and keep to ourselves, so maybe that’s why it seems complicated?
Regardless, the time must be intentionally spent in God’s Word, in His presence, and in prayer (please see here, here, and here). Time when we quiet the world’s chatter—or, the wisdom handed out to us by people just like us (who are also searching—just like us—so why even?! But, I digress…) And, time to allow God to work in our life—or, sanctification.
And, because The Deep also requires some humility and faith, it’s accessed through confession and (likely more than a few) tears and repenting and resting and receiving (and, please don’t glide *pun intended* by this last one, because it’s super important that we RECEIVE all that God has for us!) And, The Deep is where we come to the end of ourselves and know we possess nothing of our own apart from the graciousness of God. It calls us to transfer our will and want and to know we have nothing at all to give back to God but our own heart. And, finally, although The Deep is vast and seems endless, when faced bravely (because there is no shame or fear in love), it can also be the source of our greatest blessings.
If we’ll only allow it.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. (Isaiah 30:15)
Now, to be fair, one can have a faith in Jesus and know their eternity will be spent with Him, while gliding smoothly—like a float or duck—along the surface of this life of faith. And, one can still be used by God in serving and loving people and growing His Kingdom while still gliding. One can also study and learn the Bible cover to cover or give themselves to people for an entire lifetime, yet never give the deepest parts of themselves to God. And, one can even remain doing all this until death, if they desire, because God is gentle and will never force a hand to accept His helping hand out into the deep end.
But, Sweetest Friends… my purpose here is to suggest we each seek not to go on living like floats and ducks in this life of faith. Basically, because we’re neither.
But, mostly because God is deeper.
What if I dared you to leap right into The Deep?
What if I said that the only way to a fully redeeming, restoring, reconciling life of faith is to dive all in with God? And, what if I suggested that this be the day we decide to take the duck dive of our life right into the deep end of faith? You know… we wouldn’t really even have to dive or leap. We could just spread wide open our arms and close our eyes and fall.
Deeply. Completely. Totally. All in. All of us. Immersed and surrounded by The Deep, all while deeply connected to Jesus.
Because, remember our Anchor?
Yeah, so the complete truth is, I’ve begun this process, though only barely. It’s been six years now that I’ve been practicing my deep dive, secured by my Anchor. That may seem like a decent stretch of time, but remember the whole “God is gentle” thing? Well, He is and so He hasn’t forced me further. And, He won’t force you, either.
But, you know… I haven’t regretted one second of this new found life, stretched out in The Deep with Jesus.
And, although I can’t really guarantee anything, if I could, I’d totally guarantee you’ll never regret surrendering yourself to the full depths of His Perfect Love either. You’ll never regret opening up the deepest parts of your truest self to Jesus, allowing His bright, purifying light to shine directly upon all that’s hiding in the darkness surrounding you… all that’s keeping you from facing His face in The Deep. Because, it’s in His light, He can finally begin to sculpt… set aflame… chip away… and bring about all the beauty of who He created you to be. Not who you—or anyone else—thinks you should be! Not the world. Not your parents. Not your pastor, your spouse, your friend. Only your Creator.
And, you’ll never regret continuing to live out your faith this way, either. Telling God, honestly and without reservations—all day long—all the things that make you angry and fearful and confused and ashamed and cynical and distrustful and discontented and sad and plain, pull-your-hair-out-certifiable… or better yet, happy and loved and grateful and hopeful and desiring of and delighted about.
See, living in The Deep means we daily face real life. The fear. The shame. The bondage. The broken. The real mess that’s staring back at us. With no running. No busyness. No denial. No cover-up. No blame shifting or pointing fingers or excuses. Just living out what’s true, in perfect love. Because we have our Anchor to face it with us.
But, but… (Yes, I can hear *because I’ve said* all the “buts”…)
But, the Bible doesn’t move or excite me enough to read it. Then, tell God.
But, I don’t understand (or even agree!) with certain parts of it. Tell God.
But, I find it impossible (and kinda dumb) to do what the Bible says. Tell God.
But, I can’t find a way to forgive someone and they don’t deserve it and I’m consumed by this. Tell God.
But, I face a relentless beast of burden… Every. Single. Day. An addiction that wakes me up at night to do it’s bidding… A feeling I can’t shake… Something so unspeakable, I’d rather run or hide than admit it to anyone, let alone myself. (Please just finally) tell God. Then keep telling Him. Then cry about it. Then seek answers and help. Then keep telling Him, crying, and seeking.
But, I’m angry with God about all of it… or, just angry because He does nothing to help with any of it… or, just plain angry! Tell Him!
But, I guess I just don’t really trust/believe/perceive/or seem to connect with Him, honestly? Tell Him that, too.
But, I’m really not as bad as some people. I mean, have you seen what goes on in this world?! Then tell (on yourself to) God. For the record, we’ve all been here.
But, God has a whole universe to run and He doesn’t care about what I care about and He really shouldn’t be bothered, anyway. Okay, this one is simply a lie from the pit and, honestly, kinda lame. So, just let that one go already!
You get the point (yeah, at least four points ago!), I’m sure. In The Deep, you simply tell God everything. It’s always baffled me why we think we can keep anything hidden from the God who sees and knows it all.
And, please hear this part… telling God about everything, doesn’t mean we then go on to find a fix for ourselves or else be left to stew in the mess we create. Because, telling God isn’t simply a confession. It’s also an invitation. An opportunity for God’s work of grace. Telling God about all, invites into our lives the Only True and Lasting Fix—Jesus—as we wait in anticipation for His work, allow Him to guide us, and lean into His grace.
So, there’s simply nothing left for us to fear anymore. Jesus left His Heavenly home to save us from the very broken that is breaking each of us and there is now absolutely nothing that can separate His Own from Himself. Not our worst moments. Nor, even when we keep repeating our worst moments.
Because, the real deal with faith and The Deep is—You can’t out sin God’s grace, simply because His grace is always deeper still. In other words, our sin can never erase what Jesus accomplished upon that Cross. Jesus drank the full cup of wrath God had stored up for us, then traveled to the depths of hell, so we never would have to go that deep!
Now, (as one of my beautiful friends, partners in the deep end, and quite possibly the world’s best hugger might put it) for the love… Would you just drop into The Deep already! (And, then she’d hug you and you’d know what I’m talking about. She’s actually one of the main reasons I dove in. A rare and true gift, that girl!)
One more thing… If you’re currently a surface dwelling, though extremely panicked duck… you know, perfectly put together up top but paddling like mad underneath, just about to go under from complete exhaustion, I’ve got another suggestion—paddle out to The Deep and simply stop paddling. Yep. Because, remember… you. are. not. a. duck. Nor, were you designed to paddle. Or, really even exhaust to that degree. You were designed to work, and then be at rest, in The Perfect Anchor of your soul, Jesus Christ. And, because God has set the very deepest thing—Eternity—on your heart, you were actually born to live out your faith, for the rest of your life, in the only place His full truth resides…
(You guessed it!) The Deep.
I’ll end with some verses that I pray will take you deeper…