It has been years. You’re struggling to see your way. You haven’t had much success at what you’ve been doing. You’ve been giving it your best shot. You even recruited a few trusted people to help you. They, however, served their purpose and have now left. You, though, can’t afford to leave. Many have passed by, urging you to give up on this exercise, fast becoming an exercise in futility. You couldn’t be deterred, however, and so, you continued.
Now, you’re weary and beginning to lose hope. Perhaps you should have thrown in the towel as the onlookers told you to. After all, how much profitlessness can one person withstand? Now, you’ve decided, ‘This is too much for me. I can’t do this much. I give up. This doesn’t make any sense and besides, my resources have grown thin.’
Just then, a familiar face approaches. He engages you in conversation. For a while, you wonder where is he going with all this. However, you’re polite, so you entertain him. All the while, though, you’re thinking ‘Doesn’t this guy know that I’m tired?’ You begin to excuse yourself, ‘I really should be going now. I have been at this for some time now and I haven’t had any breakthroughs.’ Not taking the hint, he challenges you, ‘Leaving so soon? I thought you’d give it another go. Why don’t you? I will be with you.’ You think to yourself, ‘Is this guy for real!’ Almost hearing your thoughts, he encourages you, ‘Come on now…what could it hurt? Maybe you need to put out into the deep water.’
A journey in faith can often be like this. We seem to be going around and around in circles and not yielding much: the same things annoy us; we seem always to be living from paycheque to paycheque; we suffer the same disappointments and hurts; we repeat mistakes and we always come up feeling empty, miserable, and unfulfilled. Where are we not getting it right? We have even wondered, ‘Am I the only one God has turned His back on?’ After all, we have been doing all the right things – praying, attending church, reading scripture, fasting, tithing. So why do our efforts seem to leave us feeling so without? Friends, it is at this time we know we are being called to ‘put out into the deep water’ (Luke 5:4). Honestly, this is a thought that scares and intimidates. We might even think we don’t have what it takes. Still, we might wonder where else is there to go? What more is there to do?
The feelings of fear and unworthiness, the thoughts of not being suited or capable are normal. The truth is, they are typical because we just might be thinking that we have to do it alone – that we have to figure it out alone, that we have to stay the course alone and that we are walking alone. Let me remind you here that faith is not a journey made alone. Occasionally we feel alone, but we never are.
Sometimes, we are hesitant to put out into the deep water because we can’t imagine just how much deeper there is to go. Remember, we have been praying, attending church, reading scripture, fasting, tithing and participating in ministries at church. Understandably, we ask in disbelief, ‘You mean there’s more to it than this?’ The reason, however, that we ask that question is that we don’t realise it is not for us to determine what is the more we have to do (and maybe even what is the ‘more’ we need to stop doing). That’s where God and prayer come in. The way ahead is not ours to determine; that’s God’s role. Our role is to ask God in prayer to show us the ‘more to it’, to listen and, then, of course, to do it.
The journey of faith is not easy in a culture that tells us we need to be the ones holding the reins. Faith is not easy, because it is not intended to be easy. Faith is hard work. Faith requires perseverance (continuing when you feel like giving up). Faith requires courage (many times you find yourself going against the grain of what people say). Faith requires obedience (reverent submission to God; relinquishing of ego). Faith requires self-denial (which means self-control and resisting urges). Faith often puts us in a position to be ridiculed.
But, faith is fulfilling. Faith is rewarding. Faith is renewing. Faith is strengthening. Faith is life-changing. Faith is enabling. Faith, my friends, is Jesus Christ. And, who is Jesus Christ but the Way so, He will definitely guide us, showing us how to do it. He said He would be with us always, so we are not alone. He is our strength so in Him we can do all things.
To experience the transformative power of faith, however, we must go deeper. We must put out into the deep water. Note now, your deep water isn’t mine. The only way to know where your deep water lies is to listen. Listen for the still, small voice that beckons. Listen for the still, small voice that guides. Listen for the still small voice that encourages. Listen for the still, small voice that inspires. And as you listen and respond to that voice, you will find that you are indeed being drawn deeper. In time, you will find that you went deeper than you had ever thought you could go.
So, as I close, my friends, I invite you to ‘put out into the deep water’. The present seems like a good time as any to start, wouldn’t you say? Many of us are out at sea. Some of us are struggling to keep afloat. Some of us are holding on by a thread. Even still, some of us are afraid to swim. But I say, ‘Put out into the deep water’. I assure you, you won’t come up empty.
Until next time,
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