Photo: Again We say Rejoice Photography
Author: Caroline Tiller
“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep, at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.” Psalm 42:6-7.
There is a moment, as you stand before a waterfall, where the sheer force of the water beating down into the pool below sucks the breath out of your lungs, and you feel like you are drowning with your head above water. At that moment, there’s a corner of your brain that tells you to retreat into the shallows, where comfort and safety wait for you. But there is also a moment, as you tread water to stay afloat, where you wonder what could be beyond the ferocious wall of water that rages before you. There is a moment where you throw yourself beneath the water into the unknown; a moment when your head breaks the surface and you scramble up the rocks into a cave beyond the water. Here the air is easier to breathe, and the water is gentler on your skin, the deafening roar softens so that you can hear the drip, drip, drip of individual droplets. There is a moment when your heart swells in your chest, and your nerves burn underneath your skin because you weren’t created for the shallows. You were created for the depths, for the hidden places you can only reach when your feet no longer reach the bottom.
When you first look at God, when you first wade into the unfamiliar shallows, it’s easy to see Him in all of His overwhelming, paralyzing, breathtaking might. It’s easy to see the furious God, the Lord of the battle, who annihilates cities and destroys Israel’s enemies. You watch as He proves that He is Lord. And yet, a gentle whisper in your ear, a warm tug at your heart, draws you deeper. You start to swim closer, you start to feel the danger, but then you dive in and find yourself in the strangest place: the heart of God. And all of a sudden, you realize that the Lord is love itself. He is mighty, yes, but He is gentle. He is just, yes, but He is merciful. He is fearsome, yes, but He is good.
The Lord has created and is continually cultivating a depth inside each of us – a depth of mind, of heart, and of spirit – that He has modeled after Himself. Whether or not we realize that it’s even there, the depth of our souls is crying out to the depth of the Lord, our creator and our sustainer. I think many of us can become dissatisfied, frustrated, or anguished because we feel a similar longing to the singer of Psalms 42 and 43. The psalmist laments his circumstances: he is far from Jerusalem, kept from the sanctuary by his enemies, and feeling forsaken by the Lord. The psalmist longs to be back in the presence of God.
Only when you leave the shallows for the depths can you fully know and experience the Lord, but being in the depths is hard. It often means having to confront sin in your life, or wrestle with scripture, or deal with deeply rooted heart issues, or be obedient when it is especially difficult to do so. For whatever reason it may be, sometimes as we go through life, we can retreat to the shallows without fully realizing it. We find ourselves feeling separate from the Lord and unable to get back to Him. We feel unsettled and confused, and our souls cry out because once you have dwelt in the heart of God, the shallows are unsatisfying.
I recently found myself sitting in the shallows due to a myriad of excuses. I decided to take my disappointment and frustration out on the Lord, and He told me point blank: “I have not forsaken you. You made the decision to retreat when things got hard. Get out of the shallows. I have made you for more than this.”
My friends, I come offering encouragement. You were created for more than a surface level existence. There is a depth to you that echoes the depth of Lord, and when you live out of that place, He will use and bless you in the loveliest of ways. So wade out a little further and embrace the roar of your heart as it calls out to the One who made it, the only One who can satisfy.
(The song below is titled Satisfied in You (Psalm 42) by The Sing Team, and I hope it can encourage you as it has encouraged me.)
Caroline Tiller is a student at Georgia State University. She is studying Public Policy with a concentration in Nonprofit Leadership, dreaming of using her degree to combat human trafficking internationally. She is passionate about Atlanta, strong coffee, teenagers, literature, and seeing people come alive. She could go on for hours and hours about the Lord, his character, his mystery, and his infinite grace (to name just a few), and is excited to share what the Lord is speaking into her life with the women of RISING!