They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn, so as the latest round of Covid restrictions comes into force, let’s agree it’s mighty, monumentally, murky. Normally the most festive of seasons, Christmas finds us in lock-downs tighter than they’ve ever been. We’re sunk in a year of the most complex perplexity, suspended in peril that never seems to end. Most can’t see the hope of one day after another.
But that’s just the bad news. For you believers out there who have taken up the challenge of ‘the Deep”, the adventure is only begun. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t seem to be finished with this theme, so take a deep, deep breath! We’re goin’ down!
The ocean deep is a supremely fascinating, enigmatic environment, teeming with strange life forms and more than a little danger. Amazingly, fifteen people have walked on the surface of the moon, but only seven intrepid explorers have made the return trip from the bottom of the ocean, and there’s good reason for that. Conditions are extreme, to say the least. At 1800 meters, light no longer penetrates the water, so photosynthesis, the major engine of life on the planet, ceases. Pressure mounts exponentially, increasing by one atmosphere for every ten meters of depth. Temperatures plummet, making movement difficult. Taking all these hostile factors into consideration, incredibly specialized vehicles are required to plumb the depths and return unscathed.
Though it’s always possible to enter the spiritual deep voluntarily through fasting and prayer, most of us plummet wildly in through the violent and vicious shipwrecks life throws at us. We suffer loss, pain, rejection, disease or death; a deep night of the soul where we end up learning far more than we really wanted to know. Fortunately, Scripture serves as our unsinkable bathyscaphe (underwater exploration vehicle) for deep sea dives of the spiritual and supernatural. In the pitch dark of this vast unknown, the Word faithfully navigates us. The Holy Spirit surrounds us in a protective bubble, insulating from full stresses.
Contrary to what we feel, we are actually creatures formed for the deep. Our very existence is an ocean scape. The physical body is merely our solid terra firma. Beneath that surface, the obscure territory of the soul begins. Our natural animal instinct for survival, pervades our will, desire, emotion and thinking. Deeper still lies the realm of spirit, our essential and primary being. We were spirit long before we became flesh, and will be again, but for most, our own spirit-man is an exotic creature we wouldn't recognize in the mirror. Keep the descent and you will touch bottom, where our spirit and the Spirit of God become one.
In the abyss where light ends, a miracle begins. The astounding phenomenon of bioluminescence kicks into effect. By divine plan, creatures who live in these depths are given a singular gift. They hold the complex chemical processes required to create light. Few things are more stunningly beautiful than these other-worldly creatures wafting like flowers through impossible conditions. It’s unspeakable grace and beauty; an utterly captivating dance of life.
But now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light Ephesians 5:8
Not many ever discover it, but we are glorious, luminescent beings. Most Christians don’t have a clue about the power they carry, and it isn’t until dire circumstances cause the latent radiance to burst forth. It may not feel like it, but we bring the light--actually possessing the capacity to illuminate situations and drive out darkness. Even as affliction and persecution assail, “The Spirit of grace and glory” (1 Peter 4:14) rests on us. When the profound well of resurrection power we carry inevitably arises to deliver, we are astounded. It isn’t until we reach urgently into God’s presence, desperate for strength to carry on that we really learn the undertow of majesty buoying us along.
That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2:15
Air-breathers do not enjoy the rough and tumble of this strange world, but many wonderful transformations do happen here. In the darkness, we face the monsters; insecurities, submerged traumas, toxic self-hatred or a thousand and one other internalized foes. In the deep, Jesus heals the divisions between body, soul and spirit (Ephesians 2:13-18). In the deep, we not only become healed, we become whole. The munificent potentials we dreamed about manifest in full and glorious colors. Arise! Shine! For your light is come!
Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters, They see the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. Psalm 107:24
cb Image by Bing