Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB)
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The deep end is scary. I get it. When I was a little girl and supposed to be in swim lessons, I splashed water on myself and told the lifeguard that I already took my lessons. Real fears kept me from wanting to venture to the deep end. But unless I went deeper, I would never learn to swim and would just stay on the surface—missing the danger and the fun they were having, too.
To go deeper would take me to new heights. But it would cost me. I would have to face my fears and the obstacles in my way to choose to go deeper.
So it is in our relationship with God. It seems like the deepest places can also be painful. Hard even. But we would not trade the experience of being in such deep fellowship with God. We just wish it were easier.
Here we are at the cusp of a new year and an opportunity lies before us. No, I am not talking about resolutions or necessarily even goals, though goals are worthwhile. Resolutions can be, too, but not when they are dependent solely upon us carrying out promises. We need help from God to do that.
No, each day that we have, every year we are given is an opportunity to go deeper with God.
The natural drift happens easily enough. We know what we should do. We might have disciplines in place to help us in our walk with God, but is there a part of us that we hold back? What prevents us from going deeper with God?
Too Easily Satisfied
We grow complacent because we are satisfied with our progress. We forget to hunger after God. We feel what we have done is enough. We grow weary of the pursuit. The Scripture passage above is such a great reminder. We will never arrive down here and while that is a daunting thought to us type “A’s”, it is also such sweet relief. And this beautiful relationship we have with God has just begun. True satisfaction is found by continually being in His presence, not by barely skimming the surface, but by going deeper with our great God who we get to know.
We can be prone to wander and to isolation. We want independence, but it is in abiding that we find our strength to run the race and pursue the greatest treasure of our lives . . . knowing God. God is with us, friends! With us. We can draw near to the Holy One. Don’t stay out on the edge. Come on in and seek Him. We were created for fellowship, not to be alone.
We stay away from the presence of God sometimes due to simply put, our sin. We know we have failed. How do we draw near to the perfect One in such a state? By His grace. We can draw near to Him because He told us to. And His grace covers us when we confess and turn from our sin. New day. New mercies every single day. Walk in it, friends.
I write a lot about hope because it is such an important facet of our faith. When our hopes have been let down, we can resist drawing nearer to God, Who is our hope. We can buy the lies that wonder if God is good when our hopes fail. And so we do enough. Just enough to make sure we are still seeking God, but we are afraid of going deeper lest our hopes get crushed one more time.
This is what happens when our hope is set on the wrong thing. But just knowing that will not fix our hope. We need to ask God to be our hope. To help us overcome discouragement and idolatry over the wrong hope. He can do that. Will we?
Another thing I have written about as I have hungered to go deeper with God is shame because it reaches every soul and prevents people from knowing and walking with God. Wow. Powerful tool of the enemy, indeed.
The attack on our very personhood causes us to shrink back from Who we really are—children of God. Shame keeps us from living on mission for Christ and paralyzes us from going deeper with God. But God wants to restore our honor. When we confess our shame, we are free from it when we replace shame’s lies with God’s truths.
We draw nearer to God when we have our minds set on His will, His Kingdom purposes for our lives. When our minds are set on temporal things, we lose perspective. But we can go deeper with God when we saturate our minds with His word rather than social media and man’s opinion.
All of the tactics of the enemy are really distractions to keep us busy or so disillusioned that we forget our walk with God is all about relationship. God is near. It never was meant to be a religion, after all.
And we can form some tactics of our own. We are in a battle, friends. Doing nothing is doing something—a slow fade. But we can put best practices in place not out of religion, but as a catalyst to provoke us to draw nearer to God.
Let’s go deeper with God in 2019, shall we? Listen in to the new Seeing Deep podcast where we will be diving into God’s word together and applying His word to our daily lives—and seeing deep in a shallow world.
If you have not started a Bible Reading plan, there are so many options available. I personally love what Ligonier Ministries (R.C. Sproul) offers for their bible reading plans. Christine Abraham (founder of Women’s Bible Cafe) is also doing a chronological bible-in-a-year plan and offers bible studies online. Shame Off You will be offered as a course soon on Women’s Bible Cafe.
When sin, hopelessness, shame or our mindset can keep us from going deeper with God, run to Him, anyway. There is no other place or person who can meet our deepest need. Surrendering and seeking God when life is hard is how we overcome. Go deep to get higher.