“Knowing by faith that He is present to you and realizing the utter hopelessness of trying to think intelligibly about this immense reality and all that it can mean, you relax in a simple contemplative gaze that keeps your attention peacefully aware of Him hidden somewhere in this deep cloud into which you also feel yourself drawn to enter.” Thomas Merton
- In Part 1 “He’s Not Here” we looked at how easy it is to forget what Jesus says, especially when we didn’t hear or want to hear it in the first place.
- In Part 2 “Who Is That Masked Man?” we reviewed the conversation two men had with Jesus, bemoaning how Jesus was nowhere to be found, and how the first prerequisite for deeper revelation is that we actually want
- In Part 3 “Half Seeing” we talked about the inadequacy of a one-touch salvation our need to have our eyes opened wider so that we can see clearer.
Someone asked me what prompted me to write about this theme. If I’m honest, in some ways I’m sad about the glib expression of faith that I perceive in many of my contemporaries. Though I fear having judgmental spirit towards anyone, what I fear more are the consequences of a shallow spirituality going unchecked. We have so much more to get and so much more to give to emerging generations.
The Psalmist prayed: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71) Many of us are positioned to declare his power, when all we have are old testimonies of the good old days. We have the opportunity to invite someone younger to climb onto our shoulders so they can see further than we can and do more for Jesus than we could ever do. They deserve to inherit a deeper faith from us, yet many of us suffer from a “hardening of our categories,” and can’t seem to learn anything new or experience God in fresh ways.
I know that speaking about a “deeper” life in Christ sounds competitive, as though our goal is to be deeper than the next guy. But that’s not at all what we’re talking about here. While there might be indicators of how far along we are in our walk, there’s no depth-measuring instrument for spirituality, at least not ones that we’re supposed to show off by comparison.
Even if there were, it could only tell us how deep (or shallow) we are relative to where we ourselves ought to be, not relative to anyone else. Though it’s no competition amongst ourselves, we should each possess a passion to go as deep in God as we possible can in this life, till the day we’ll be utterly immersed in all that he is. If not for ourselves, for those who dive in next to us, must we be content with nothing less than the deep end!
The prophet had a vision of stages of an ever-deepening walk with God.
He led me through water that was ankle-deep… (then) water that was knee-deep… (then) through water that was up to the waist… but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. Ezekiel 47
How could there not always be an ever-deeping fellowship with the eternal God? Yet so many Christians seem content to splash around in ankle-deep water and not many wade in far enough to lose touch with the river bottom. Are we willing for God to sweep us off our feet?
Who among us even wants a River un-crossable? Aren’t we more comfortable with something a little bit more manageable, a little less formidable–– something a tad more comprehensible? When we realize that he’s a River too deep and too wide for us to cross, don’t most of us turn around and scamper back to shore?
Ankle-deep Christians are those just testing the water. Knee-deep is when your goal is to receive some refreshment from God while keeping your feet on the River bottom. A lot of Christians are content to dip their cupped hands in the River, take a sip, splash the rest on their face, and call it a day. They feel refreshed, but not for long. They don’t go deeper but their mouth is rinsed, their hands are cleaner, and their face refreshed.
The waist-deep Christian further in but is still only half-wet. They go in up to their waist, knowing they can always get out at will and go home and change clothes.
Jeanne Guyon said, “Think of a bottomless sea: Anything thrown into this sea will continue sinking without reaching the bottom. God’s love is like a weight within us, causing us to sink deeper and deeper into God.”
A lot of Christians are standing ankle, knee, or waist-deep studying the next step. They’re looking out over the whole River and wondering what it would take to go deeper. One thing is for sure. It takes an increasing surrender of our control, and risking trust in the control of Another. It means, unless we panic and go back toward shore where we have more control, we go where The River goes. If we do decide to all in, it will affect everything. At that point we’re beyond the testing stage, we’re immersed, dunked, we’re baptized!
“Every Christian will become at last what his desires have made him. We are all he sum total or our hungers.” A.W. Tozer
Where are you––up to your ankles, knees, waist, or over your head in God? And what are your plans to go deeper?