On my walk to the river this morning, I saw a cute moment between a dad and his 3-year-old son. They were wading on the riverbank, where the water was about 6 inches deep. The dad picked up three rocks from under the water and said to his son, “Hey buddy, do you think you can get these rocks if I put them over here? It’s really deep over here…” and moved the rocks to where the water was a whopping eight inches deep instead of six.
The son jumped into the water with a mix of trepidation and delight. He came up from splashing around with one rock in his hand and a huge smile on his face. His dad said, “Okay, you got one, try for the others!”
I laughed to myself about how sweetly the dad challenged his son to do something out of his comfort zone, even though he knew the water was only two inches deeper. He stood by, watching, knowing his son was safe, but it was enough of a scary thing for his son to be stretched.
I think our faith journeys can be similar. As a loving Father, God can put us in deeper and deeper waters. All the while, he’s watching to make sure we don’t drown–but we often forget that. Because even if it’s only two inches deeper, it can feel so scary!
We panic in the water, kick up sand, hit rocks, and feel alone in our suffering. Things feel bleak, cloudy, and inescapable. We don’t know it’s just two inches. To us, the difference between what we’re used to and where we are may as well be as deep as the ocean.
God puts us in deeper waters through many different aspects of our lives. Maybe it’s a new job that requires way more than you feel capable of, and you lose your bearings on who you are and what you can do. Maybe you lost a relationship that was a stabilizing force in your life, and you don’t know who you are without them. Maybe your life felt like it had a single direction that everything you were doing was working towards, but now you’re questioning if it’s all worth it.
And when these situations happen, God feels far away. Our sense of connection and grounding feels compromised. We just end up feeling…off. And we’re not sure why.
So how do we navigate through these deeper waters?
Start by asking yourself these questions and see what God reveals to you.
1. Is there anything else in my life that feels unstable right now?
We are holistic creatures. Everything we do and feel in one area of our lives affects the others. So, when the ground feels shaky in one area of our lives, the others will all start to follow suit. So, start by acknowledging and validating if anything else in your life – besides your walk with God – feels unclear, new, or trepidatious.
Transition is not easy for anyone. Journal, pray or talk to a friend about what this new chapter of your life feels like.
2. How are my solo times with God?
Parents will tell you how easy it is to lose connection to their partner in the hustle and bustle of life with kids. You don’t mean to be disconnected, but between the chaos of kids, jobs, and keeping the house in order, all of a sudden, it’s been three days since you’ve even talked to your partner.
Our relationships with God can be the same. Evaluate if you have given yourself true, quality time to connect with God recently. And if the answer is no, prioritize that time ASAP.
3. How is my mental and physical health in general?
As I said earlier, we are holistic creatures. Our spiritual health impacts our physical and mental health. Our physical health impacts our mental and spiritual health, etc.
So, if you are feeling off spiritually, ask yourself if you have been taking care of your mental and physical health, too.
I love the example of how God treats Elijah in 1 Kings. Elijah is frustrated, hopeless, and running from danger. And while he is so miserable that he wants to die, instead of rebuking him, God treats him to a nap and some food.
“All at once, an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.” 1 Kings 19:5 b-6.
After he was strengthened by God’s provisions, he continued his travel to the Mount of God, where God met him and encouraged him to face the problems he was running from.
Sometimes when we are weak spiritually, we just need the equivalent of a nap and some food to be strengthened again. Evaluate if that is true for you.
4. What could God be teaching me in this season?
Just like the dad at the river, God could be putting you in a place of uncertainty on purpose to stretch you and strengthen your faith. What lessons could God be leading you to learn in this time?
Is there anything you need to surrender? To trust God’s timing with? Is there anything about this situation that feels similar to something you’ve gone through before, and what was the lesson then? Is there deeper healing that needs to happen that your situation is bringing up?
This season of uncertainty could be an invitation to dig. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and be patient. God isn’t in a rush for you to figure things out–you don’t need to be either.
Before you know it, as you trust God with your uncertainty, you’ll be coming up for air and realizing that this season of life wasn’t so deep and scary after all. And then it will be time for God to put the rocks even deeper and invite you into trusting him again, deeper this time.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/tommaso79
Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is a former editor at Crosswalk.com. She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earrings on Instagram and her website for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.