1 Peter 2v2-3: “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.”
In the Casting crowns song ‘Somewhere in the middle’ they have a line “Deep water faith in the shallow end”. I believe that phrase sums up where many of us are in our walk with God.
We are in the shallow end of the pool of life, in far enough to get a bit wet, but not out of our safety zone. We are still in the area that our feet can touch the ground. We are in control, we have yet to take the plunge and go beyond where we can stand on our on to where we need to fully trust on God for safety and protection.
But we need to go deeper. When we first became Christians sure we needed to get familiar with everything in the safety of the shallow end. People learn to swim start at the shallow end. But as they get more confident they soon progress towards the deep end. We can’t spend our whole life stuck where we feel safe; otherwise we will miss out on much that God wants to do through us. In the Church today many of us seem to be content to remain not that much deeper than we where when we first got saved. But that is not what Jesus calls us to. He expects that as we grow in faith we will move on, using that increased faith to move out of the shallow end and into the deep end of total reliance on Him.
See the thing with faith is that it is a bit like muscle – if you don’t exercise it regularly it deteriorates. If we aren’t regularly putting our faith into action when push comes to shove and the heat is on we may just find it isn’t as strong as we thought it was. Rather than sit in the shallow end and let our faith waste away we need to go deeper and put it into action so that when we the crisis comes it will be strong enough to endure.
In most swimming pools the shallow end tends to be just a small section at one end. Do we really want to go through life stuck in one small section, missing out on all the other parts of the pool of life has to offer?
For many of us it is not a matter of not having the faith – I believe there are many of us who have the faith needed to go to the ‘deep end’, we just like the comfort and familiarity of the shallow end too much to leave. It is time to step out and go deeper.
God promises He will protect us – in Isaiah 43:2 he promises
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
For each of us, heading to the deep end will have different implications in our life. It may mean moving on from the slightly toned down Youth Bible to a more accurate, harder to read translation like the NLT, NIV or ESV (The good news is these days you can get student editions of pretty much any translation with easy reference guides to topics, issues, core verses etc, and even stylish covers [although of course it is what is between the covers that counts, not what is on them!])
Maybe it will mean stepping up to the plate and taking on some form of leadership/service role in your church – perhaps volunteering for something as simple as helping with tea and coffee, or maybe your church Sunday School. Or if you are slightly older, looking into getting involved with leadership in your YF.
Perhaps moving to the deep end will mean giving up a few comforts for hardships as you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus.
It could mean spending less of your time giving in to your desires and more time acting on God’s desire that we love justice and show mercy. Less time watching trashy chat shows on the TV and more time praying for the advance of the Kingdom of heaven. Less time listening to the corrupt messages of secular culture on your iPod and more time filling your ears with worship music. (Garbage In, Garbage Out and all that GCSE ICT stuff…)
Maybe going to the deep end will mean handing over control of areas of your life that previously you have been firmly in the driving seat of to God, letting Him steer you rather than try to invite Him for the ride with you. It could mean seeking God’s guidance on what to do with your life, rather than just going with what your school careers advisor says. It could be being wise with your money, giving some to charity rather than McDonalds or Nike.
For you it could be all of these, some of these, or maybe something completely different. Whatever you personally need to do, it is important that we as a generation all do it, because the shallow end is getting a bit crowded, and frankly, staying in the shallow end, in our comfort zone, isn’t going to change the world. It is only when we go beyond where we feel safe, beyond where we are in control, beyond what the world expects and into the deep end with the power of God that greater things will start to happen. Are you ready to take the plunge?