My sand-encrusted body moved with childish darts and spins as my dad emerged from the pounding waves to chase me along the beach. Dad’s laughter surfed the ocean breeze and within moments of his pursuit, he scooped me into strong arms and turned back to the water.
I squealed with giggles, then with terror, as I realized his intent. My tiny frame clung to his massive one, a four-limbed starfish suctioned to a human pier post, as Dad waded into froth-filled breakers—into depths well over my five-year-old stature.
Earlier, Dad had disappeared beyond the gentle surf. In my mind, he might as well have been across the sea. The vast ocean with wet arms that reached to grab and topple me as I played, was to be avoided. I was content, safe on the shore with my seashell treasures and an endless supply of white powdery joy between my toes.
My dad wanted me to go deeper.
To leave my safe zone, to expand my pint-sized world. He wanted me to trust him. To rest in his love and to know he would never beckon me into a place where he wouldn’t be.
He knew the mystery waiting beyond the breakers—an unseen sandbar that would provide a place to stand. And he anticipated the pleasure of seeing his timid daughter wriggle with delight at the new adventure and perspective.
Oh, what a sacred image of how our Lord calls to us.
How He longs to lead us into deeper wells of faith and life. How He wants us to trust in His love and purposes and to reach beyond our places of comfort.
Paralyzed with doubt, our knuckles whiten as we cling to what we know: But, Lord I like it here. My world is comfortable. Pleasant. Seriously, I have no desire for change. Haven’t I earned a little down time? I’m rather, um, tired. Besides, I’m doing good stuff here!
Scripture is filled with men and women whom God pursued on the shores of comfort-filled waters. Abraham and Sarah are only two of the Old Testament saints who stepped away from the familiar and into God-sized joys and blessings. The fledgling New Testament Christians chose to remain steadfast, and in the midst of earthly persecution, God relocated them around the known world, making the Gospel available to all.
But there is none greater than the ultimate example—our Lord Jesus Christ—who modeled the ultimate obedience to give us the gift of reconciliation with the Father.
The God of Abraham, Sarah, and the early Christians still moves in our hearts today … drawing us, wooing us to leave the shallows and to explore the depths. To refuse the stagnation that comes with disobedience.
To trust that He will not leave us treading water, but will provide a new place to stand.
How do we know when it’s time to move and to go deeper? Discernment begins with an immersion—a saturation—in the Word of God. In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul gives us beautiful insights into seeking our Father’s heart: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Whether to a new area of life and family ministry, or to share the Gospel with the neighbors down the street, God will never call us where He is not already working. And He can’t wait to see our full measure of joy as we plunge into the depths of obedience and faith.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Romans 8:14).
Have we made an idol of pleasant shores? Is the Lord calling us to go deeper with Him?