July 11, 2013

the shallow end

I long for the ocean today. And the mountains: Montana Rockies, Pennsylvania Alleghenys. An insatiable longing for something is gently roused with the rushing warmth of spring and summer finally come. Staring across the ocean affirms this desire. Tracing the heights and descents of mountains assures me that there is more.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C. S. Lewis

I find this true. We think that what pleasure we can seek here on this earth is enough. We look to celebrities who live immersed in the height of shallow pleasure and think that they have it all--sex, fame, power, money, the feeling of being the best or most of something. I find in myself this half-heartedness. In an attempt to quench my thirst I try to drink what I can to quench a thirst that will not be quenched until the day I am made whole. I walked in shadowy lands not too long past, craving to know. To understand. To try and reconcile the God the world wants and the God who is. 

“The yearning to know what cannot be known, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to touch and taste the unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and landlocked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to its source." A. W. Tozer

We try to numb ourselves to the ache for Him by escaping--we turn to hours of television, hundreds of books, the shallowest of friends, take any laugh we can get, exercise more, scratch pain into our flesh, give away our greatest treasures in exchange for pleasure, put down as many people as possible--in an attempt to ignore our emptiness. We think the world's offer of fullness is the goal. We run. We always run. I always run. Towards them, away from Him.

Let your soul return to its source--put down your book. Turn off the television. Realize the sacred all around you. Find what joy brims from humble reverence, a simple thanks, a moment of deep communion with the God who reconciles, restores, redeems. It is not in the shallow water that we find the most joy, for the shallow water seems safe. Yet that is the ultimate danger of the shallow water--it is too safe. The deep water is where the real trust begins, the real reliance, the real joy. The hard gratefulness. The deep water isn't safe--but we belong to a God who works for the good of all the world, the good that will come when He brings all creation into unity. Maybe that means that I am eaten by a shark. Maybe that means I tread water and wait for a long time. Maybe I get a ship to carry others in. Maybe I get a small raft. Whatever my portion, I pray I can take it gratefully. Above all I crave Him, and the knowing Him that comes with trust.

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