This past week, I have felt burn out, exhausted, depleted…
Perhaps, I am the only one, but somehow I doubt that. My guess is that many of you, my friends, are feeling the same way.
I have been feeling this call to enter into rest and this sense of God shifting things in my life, preparing me for something. This morning, I felt a familiar fear rise up — a fear of suffering.
I recognized the god whose feet I have sat at so many times — the god of comfort, ease, and the familiar.
I began to quietly call out to God and to turn to Him. It was then I saw a “vision” or “picture.” A “picture” might be a more acceptable term for most.
This is what I saw and sensed…
I saw myself “blown” to the ocean. I stood on the shore, where the waves break.
There’s a mist enshrouding the shore, the horizon, and myself in a soothing blanket of peace. I am the only human in this place of quiet grays and whites. Feeling a gentle wind and the smooth, cool sand beneath my feet, wet from a recent wave… Feeling refreshed, sensing peace, and the calmness of the ocean.
I look down, seeing seashells and reach down to toss one back into the waves. The thought immediately comes to my mind that my life feels like a seashell that comes on shore for a short season, leaving an impression in the sand before the next wave washes it away.
My fear of being insignificant stares me in the face. I want to be more than the seashell that leaves a temporary impression.
In the quietness, He speaks to my heart. I feel His gentle authority as He shows me that I have been focused on the temporal life because that’s the broken perspective — the perspective that sin brought in the Garden of Eden. He reminds me that eternity has always been in my heart and that I was created for eternity.
When looking at the temporal life from eternity’s perspective, I suddenly see that the temporal is like a wave, but eternity is like the ocean.
“But what is one seashell in the middle of an ocean?” I ask. I sense His response: “The seashell was made to be carried in the embrace of the ocean of His love.” Human admiration is like a wave. It comes and goes out to sea, tossing a little seashell about and convincing it that it was made merely to be seen and picked up on a seashore to be collected and admired.
I sense Him speak to me again: “You were not made for the praise of mere mortals. You were made for the crescendo of Heaven.”
“You have felt tossed about by the waves because you have stayed upon the shore, seeking the adulation of the shore and the temporary excitement of each new wave.”
“I have not called you to live where the wave crashes, feeling my love reaching your toes and swelling to your calves at times.”
“I have called you to step into the depths because the depths you fear are actually the ocean of my love. Why do you fear the ocean of my love?”
“Because to experience it, you must let go of trusting yourself. You must let go of the false things you think keep you safe. You are afraid to trust me fully and thus keep yourself from fully being embraced by my love.”
“What you are trading is your fear for my love.”
“Trusting me is to actually be embraced by my love — not my abandonment or your suffering.”
I weep, knowing that what He speaks is truth. …recognizing how the lies have twisted my perspective so that I have accepted the broken instead of His love that heals me. I have feared the wrong thing and sought comfort in the wrong things.
There is a pause almost… infinite stillness. I sense He is letting me process through the truth of what He just spoke. There is no urgency, no push to make a choice. There is simply the calmness of a waiting breath — the empty space for me to listen and respond.
I find myself looking at the shore again, but it seems further away, still enshrouded in mist. I am still standing in the space between the shore and the actual ocean — caught between two worlds — not feeling that I fully belong to either.
The shore is what I have always known, but it is no longer as appealing. I feel my heart longing for the ocean, and I suddenly see myself with strong strokes swimming in the ocean. Where I am going, I don’t know, but the purpose does not appear to be the destination. The purpose of my swim seems to be the fearless courage to swim where I have never swam before and to swim as I have never done before.
It’s almost like diving into the ocean actually caused me to swim. The ocean of His love became the reason for the strength of my strokes.
I am swimming not to survive but because I am fully confident that I can swim now. I have never known such freedom. I, who have sat on the shore, watching other swimmers and fearing the power of the waves can now swim. I am fearless in the ocean — the ocean of His love.
In this ocean, there are no sharks or stinging jelly-fish. I am free to swim.
I am still swimming with strong, sure strokes, amazed as I test my strokes. I am shocked by the ease that my arms cut through the water with each stroke. I swim not for any other reason than the wonder and exhilaration of being free.
I have never felt so free!
The ocean is no longer shrouded in grays and muted whites. It is now a beautiful sapphire blue. I am surrounded by light. Joy is all around and in my heart. I have become a reflection of what surrounds me. There is joy on this side of healing.
I have no other goal than to simply be — to be the full expression of who I was created to be, dwelling within the fullness of His love.
I see myself swimming, and the thought enters my mind: “What happens when I grow tired of swimming?”
“Then float,” comes the answer across the ocean.
So often, when I become weary or fear the end of my strength, I swim to shore and climb out. I become convinced that the ocean is too big of a risk. I forget that I only learned to swim and was capable of swimming in the ocean of His love. I forget that I am not the source of my strength. I am merely the conduit of His strength.
It is my fear of failing that causes me to quit, to step out, and I leave aching and empty — caught between the shore and the ocean.
I feel the ocean beckon to me again. I want to feel the freedom and strength, flowing through me. … the ridiculous joy!
I hear His quiet voice let me know that the ocean is there, waiting for me… when I am ready again.
Then, when I fear His disapproval because I left the ocean for the space between, I look up and see Him walking towards me. He reaches out His hands, and I take them. He clasps me to Himself, and I weep in His arms. I weep for the fear that so often has held me back. I weep for the loss that my own fears have brought me. I weep because I didn’t trust Him more. I weep because in His arms, all is comforted and calmed.
I am not alone.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.