A few times a month you can find us walking the bluffs of a nearby beach town. The lulling sound of the waves is a rhythm that our souls deeply love, and we find that we naturally slow to a stroll on these days. Simply being near the water with all of its sights, sounds, and smells grants us effortless delight.

We gaze at the surface, but what lies below the depths, the parts hidden from eye’s view? Today we have documentaries that reveal the various parts of the ocean. But there was a time when humans hadn’t yet found ways of documenting what was underneath the surface of the sea. In fact, little was known about the oceans until the late 1800s. Stories and myths had given us imagined creatures that hid in the depths of the sea, but most scientists thought the deep sea was uninhabitable because of the cold and dark. Even Socrates, the Greek philosopher, said, Everything is corroded by the brine, and there is no vegetation worth mentioning, and scarcely any degree of perfect formation, but only caverns and sand and measureless mud, and tracts of slime.”

Years later, in a book published in 1859, Edward Forbes wrote, As we descend deeper and deeper in this region, its inhabitants become more and more modified, and fewer and fewer, indicating our approach towards an abyss where life is either extinguished, or exhibits but a few sparks to mark its lingering presence.”

However, just a few years later, in 1864, father and son naturalists Michael and Georg Ossian Sars were the first to bring sea lilies to shore from 10,000 feet beneath the surface. Sea lilies are beautiful creatures that look like a cross between a delicate spider and a flower with featherlike arms. Of course, the scientific community was thrilled to learn that the deep was apparently inhabited. Many years later, Georg Sars wrote, So far was I from observing any sign of diminished intensity in this animal life at increased depths, that it seemed, on the contrary, as if there was just beginning to appear a rich and, in many respects, peculiar deep-sea Fauna, of which only a very incomplete notion had previously existed.”

Like the sea lily, our desires can sometimes hide, deep down inside of us. Desire can be a beautiful, delicate creature that we are unaware of unless we go on a relentless search of our inner depths. Like the scientists and great thinkers of the past, we may not believe that there is anything deep inside of us. We see no evidence of our desires at the higher depths and so we don’t go exploring.

The bottom of the ocean is hidden to most of us but, as we’ve discovered, it contains beauty and life. Just as God created the ocean and everything in its depths, he sees and knows those deep places within us, even if we don’t see or know what’s happening there. What would it be like for you to go on your own spiritual submersible exploration to glimpse what is in your deepest levels of desire?

You may not have the ability right now to see, discern, or enjoy what lies in those depths. However, as you are ready, God may give you the vision to see what is there, what he has created, what he has been nurturing. There are aspects of you that, although hidden, are no less beautiful or valuable.

As you dive into the deep level of desire, let this add to your understanding of how much God loves you. The ocean of God’s love is enormous. It is good to feel the grandness of that at times, as it can give a sense of freedom. God’s love is greater than you can imagine.

The creatures in the ocean depths remind us that there is unfathomable beauty in the deepest and darkest of places. Sometimes it is fear that keeps us from looking deeper. We are afraid we will find something unknown or even ugly. But it is in this deeper level that we also find hidden beauty. Stay open, and let God show you in his time and in his way.

What Would Jesus Desire?

Most of us remember the craze from quite a few years back. Bumper stickers and bracelets all emblazoned with four simple initials: WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?). We’d like to suggest another word for the in WWJD: What Would Jesus Desire? What does Jesus want for you? We can seek to discern what is on the heart of Jesus as he seeks to transform us from the inside out. It is possible to continue to reach down into our own depths and learn to cooperate with his desires.

The story of the friends who lowered the man into the presence of Jesus from the roof above gives us a peek into a way we might place ourselves before Jesus.

One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, We have seen remarkable things today.” (Luke 5:17 – 26)

This level of friendship is hard to come by. These men were willing to bring harm to property, disrupt a meeting, and make fools of themselves just so they could get their friend into the presence of Jesus.

Neither the friends nor the paralyzed man ever made a request. They simply lowered their friend down, and Jesus immediately responded to this act of faith. He knew, on every level, what the paralyzed man wanted. He dealt with his soul first (“Your sins are forgiven”). Then he brought healing to his body (“Get up, take your mat and go home”).

We can be our own set of friends” as we let our desire for transformation and healing meet up with Jesus’ desire to transform and to heal. He already knows what we need, even more than we do. We can linger in his presence so that he may do what he most deeply desires to do in our lives. What might that look like?

Adapted from What Does Your Soul Love? by Gem and Alan Fadling. Text copyright © 2019 by Gem and Alan Fadling. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press. www​.ivpress​.com.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Text First Published September 2019 · Last Featured on Renovare.org June 2022

New Online Course: Living Inside the Lord’s Prayer

Author, teacher, and songwriter Carolyn Arends pulls back the veil of familiarity to throw fresh light on the brilliantly succinct prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray.

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