Last fall, my husband and I had the awesome opportunity to take a kid-less vacation. As much as I missed them, it was so nice to have some time alone with the hubs, and honestly, to just sleep whenever I wanted to. That is what I consider a vacation – not sight-seeing or shopping, but food and sleep. Total bliss!
Part of the purpose of this trip for me was to process some of the things I had been feeling God leading us to – lots of change, some physical and logistical, but mostly heart-related – the main being homeschool. Although the Lord had taken away some fear in it (my palms would literally sweat when I would talk about it), there was still a lot of anxiety and unknowns about what this would look like for our family, and I thought getting out of our usual routine would help me to gain some perspective.
Okay, that sounded really tame.
Let me rephrase this: I felt like I so desperately needed to hear from the Lord on this. Even though the Lord had already begun to change my heart and mind, I felt like I was two steps into a 100,000 mile journey. I needed more.
In God’s faithfulness, in the ways that only He can, He did. He pulled together some amazing circumstances to speak to my heart and to my fear.
On the second day on our cruise, we had a day at a sea (meaning that we would just be sailing all day, in-between ports with no stops). We had found a great deal so we were able to score a room with a balcony, knowing we’d be spending a lot of time reading and laying around that week.
So as we’re sitting out on our little balcony, with my earbuds in, listening to a new Bethel album I had bought for the trip, journaling and spending some time reading the Word, I look up to see a bird flying next to the boat.
Now, we are no way near land.
How in the world is there a bird just flying out in the middle of the ocean?!
So I’m just kind of sitting there in disbelief, wondering if I’m really seeing this.
Since I was already praying, I figured I would ask God.
(I will admit, I don’t often ask questions like this in prayer – so the whole experience was a little peculiar and awkward for me.)
“Lord, how is it here?”
And I sensed the Holy Spirit impress on my heart almost immediately – ‘This is what you can do with Me. You can go out to the depths because I am with you.”
Now – here’s a little insight, for those of you that may not know me very well. I am a planner. I hear (or think I hear) God’s call to something, and I mark out my course, pack my bags for what I think I will need, and I set out with all the best intentions to obey. (Note all the “I’s” in this statement .) But what happens with this faulty approach is that I get to the shoreline, maybe even wade out into the waves a bit, but pretty soon I know that any further and I’m in over my head. I can no longer attempt to believe that I am capable of obeying and following Him into the depths on my own. (Enter guilt, shame, and discouragement)
But in this moment, and through all the change that the Lord was orchestrating in our lives, He was showing me that the truth is that He not only calls, but that He also takes my hand and walks each step of the way with me, steadying me.
“You can go out to the depths because I am with you, sustaining you, giving you a place to rest.”
And what happened next was honestly just amazing. As I am watching this bird fly (let’s call him Finn for fun), I recognize that not only is Finn flying, but he looks like he is enjoying himself – flying side to side, dancing and diving, skimming the surface, and enjoying the depths.
Then the bird came and perched on the boat, with its little body in direct contrast to this massive ship, which was so capable of providing a perching spot, a place of rest.
Isn’t that an amazing picture of what journeying with God can be?!
He invites us into the depths because He knows that it is where the abundance is. It’s not in the safe and secure, the ground I can feel beneath my feet, where I build my own little kingdom that begins to taste grainy in my mouth like the sand I’m building it on. The abundance is in surrounding myself with water where it’s impossible to even attempt to do the thing on my own – all the while exhilarating and fulfilling the desires of my heart – desires that He fashioned when He created my heart in the first place. I experience His life inside of me, Him doing what only He can do in and through me. And that truly is the only thing on this side of heaven that fulfills.
That is the kind of life I used to pray for in college (when I was naive as to what that actually meant) – when I would ask that the Lord to make my life unexplainable apart for Him. I’m thankful that even though I had no idea what I was asking at the time, He decided to answer my naive prayers in His way and in His timing.
Lord, You are in the depths. You are in the chaos and the messy, the uncomfortable and impossible, the hard and miraculous. Despite my flesh, I want to be there. I want to experience not just Your sustaining hand, but the ways that You transform my heart to not only obey, but to enjoy it. I desire the freedom to trust You and just be and enjoy.
(This was a similar prayer I put in my journal that day, on the ship, inspired by the freedom I saw in Finn.)
(Side-note: Isn’t it incredible how someone else’s freedom can be so inspiring? I think that is what true freedom does – it gives us permission to be who we are, and yet shows us that we can step into so much more.)
Fast forward to this past December, and not only was I ready to step into the depths of homeschooling, I actually wanted to. There was excitement where there was once only extreme fear and dread.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was real. The Lord was doing something new.
And you know what else I discovered? I love it.
In His goodness, He can change our hearts and give us desires for the very things He is calling us to, planning for us, prepared before the creation of the world for us to step into.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10
So what is your story? What is your ‘deep-end’ that you fear the Lord may be calling you to explore? What is holding you back and is it worth forfeiting the freedom that you will experience if you will just step off the shore?