Rev. Susan Eaton
Craving the Deep
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Just before Thanksgiving week this year, my husband and I saw a news article about a young, 35-foot sperm whale that got stranded in Mobile Bay. No one is certain how this whale ended up in the shallow waters of the Bay, but one thing is certain: Sperm whales are not supposed to be in shallow waters. It’s not their natural habitat. They can’t thrive or survive in the shallows. As it turns out, the whale was sick—too sick even to find his way back into the depths, and so the decision was made to euthanize the whale. It was sad to hear about such a majestic creature meeting such a tragic end.
The deep waters of the ocean are a whale’s natural habitat. Every once in a while a person has the privilege of witnessing a whale leap and splash and play with complete joy and abandon in the wide-open depths of the ocean. I’ve never personally seen this, but to me, that is the picture of perfect freedom and joy.
The closest I’ve come to seeing anything like that was on my first trip to Sea World with my husband. As we entered the Shamu exhibit, I remember that I didn’t want to sit in the soak zone. Even though it was hot, I didn’t want the discomfort of walking around in wet clothes the rest of the day with wet hair looking like a sad, wet puppy. So, my husband and I chose the safe seats where we would stay nice and dry.
Our experience was nice, but it couldn't match the screams of delight and the roaring laughter that came from those in the soak zone. No one in our section screamed or roared with laughter. None of us felt the jolt of the cold water splashing us in the face, waking us up, and reminding us that we were alive. We just witnessed others having an amazing experience of joy as we remained safe, comfortable, and dry.
Jesus lived joyfully and freely in the deep waters of God’s love. That love is what enveloped him, sustained him, nourished him, and gave him great joy. It was his natural habitat, the source of his power and life. It was how he continually moved forward and deeper into the Father’s will.
Jesus splashed around in the deep waters of God’s love so much that he got people wet all the time! Some enjoyed it and found it refreshing and rejuvenating. Feeling the splash of the Father’s love wash over them was all they needed to wake up, to come alive, and be brought into new life.
There were others, though, who only followed Jesus around as spectators and had no interest in getting wet. Their preferred seats were in the safe zone—close enough to spy, but far enough to remain unchanged. So, when the waters of God’s love splashed on them anyway, it made them irritated, uncomfortable, and angry.
How dare he mess up our perfect, outward righteousness with all that uncivilized splashing! Doesn't he know we have RULES?! (See Luke 13:10-17; Luke 15)
Since the beginning of Advent, I’ve been praying about how I can be more awake, more fully alive to God’s love. I’ve been pursuing the Lord with a new passion—a rekindled fire—and I am seriously craving the deeper things. I am crying out for a personal awakening unlike any I have had before. I want to go deeper with the Lord, and I want to love people better.
My prayer this Advent is two-fold. First, I pray that I will choose the deep waters. I don’t want to be the sick whale that gets stuck in the shallows, living in a space too small to contain all of my potential, unable to find my way back into the life-giving depths. Neither do I want to sit in the safe zone remaining comfortable, only witnessing from a distance those who get soaked in the love of the Father.
I want to sit right smack dab in the middle of the soak zone. I want to be awakened and reborn! I want to dive deeper into the depths of the Father’s love. And I want to delight so much in it that all who come near me get soaked.
I hope you, too, will choose to swim and splash around in the depths of God’s love. That’s the environment we were made for. When we remain distant, choosing safety and comfort over delighting in the love of the Father, not only are we missing out on tremendous joy, purpose, and meaning, but we risk becoming unable to find our way back out into the depths.
So, how do we go deeper? Well, it starts with one simple thing: Ask.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13
One thing I’ve noticed is that the more I ask, the more I desire the Holy Spirit. Interesting, huh? So if you don’t feel a strong desire for more of the Holy Spirit, pray, “Lord, I want to want you more.” What an incredibly honest prayer! One that I believe God loves to honor.
So, will you join me in asking for more? We won’t receive if we don’t ask. You can have as much of the Holy Spirit as you want. How much do you want?
Let’s go deep, friends. Life is too short to settle for anything less. Ask. Search. Knock. Put yourself around people and in places that will create enough holy discomfort that you’ll see your need for change. Embrace it all. Then splash around in the love of the Father so everyone around you gets soaked.
"Lord Jesus, come and revive my heart. Awaken me to new life in you. I am so complacent and willing to remain comfortable. Flood over me, Holy Spirit. Wash me in your love and plunge me into the depths. NO. May I dive into your depths. May I choose you. May I say, 'I will follow you, Lord. Wherever you lead, I will go.' Let it be so, and let it be done through your power and for your glory. Amen."