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

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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