I know I haven’t written much in the way of blogging lately. There are many thoughts I’ve had, but haven’t been sure of how to word them. This is probably because I have been preoccupied with other writing – I recently finished my book on Christian counseling, am working hard to finish some other works, working on publishing a few, and also with the release of our latest edition of Women of Power Magazine. My mind has been preoccupied…and yet, at the same time, held by thoughts that I think on, late at night, and contemplate when I have a moment to think the deeper thoughts of the Christian life.
Deep: now there’s a word we hear a lot. I was a philosophy major, so that was a word we students of the thoughts of mankind loved to hear. We loved to be told we were “deep.” We associated depth with thinking, intelligence, and thought. Thinking was good. Pondering was good. Discovering the complexities of human thought was good. Then I wound up in church after church after church that “dissuaded” depth. When I wanted to understand about water baptism, people told me I was being “too deep.” When I wanted to understand about communion and why it was important, I was told I was being “too deep.” When I wanted to study the Word, I was told I was being “too deep.” People were always telling me not to think about things, not to study things, and not to investigate.
In hindsight, I know that the people I attended church with and, even sometimes my leaders, did not understand my call. I didn’t even understand my call. I didn’t know why I wanted to know more, and why what was so obvious to me didn’t seem to be to others. So, for years, I bucked the odds and “went deep.” It cost, and still costs, a lot, because it goes against the grain of years’ worth of cultural indoctrination and misunderstanding of belief. And yet….somehow…it has still been misunderstood. I’ll never forget the night I went to minister for a woman at her church and she introduced me to her church as “not deep.” The year was 2010, and I’d never had anyone describe me as “not deep” before. To be honest, I was very offended by such a description, especially by someone who did not know me very well. I know what she was trying to say, and she didn’t mean it in a negative way…but she could have found a better way to put it. Then there was the opposite extreme, when a minister I once hosted tried to take a stab at me, telling me that people “over think too much” in response to my own pondering on an issue, expressed out loud, which was overheard.
I always seem to note extremes in depth in the church. The people I mentioned above are those who took matters so serious, they became obnoxious. These types aren’t really that deep, and may not even consider themselves as such, but they sound deep. They know the public causes to pick on. They know what side to pick on politics to be popular and embrace that popularity. Truth doesn’t matter. They likewise know what to pick at in people’s personal space. You know the sanctimonious, judgmental tone they take with everyone they know – they criticize divorcees as not “trying” hard enough to make things work; they fail to empathize with others; they criticize the single mother for not being married, without all the information; and yet, they are people who often have no right to behave as they do. They are closet hypocrites, harboring their own sins, that they want to share with you until they decide they don’t anymore, because you know the hypocrite they are and suddenly you aren’t of benefit to them any longer. Then you know the truth of them – you know that under that sanctimonious tone is a man or woman who really doesn’t practice what they preach – and they can’t face you, so they just cut you out of the picture.
Then we have the extreme of people who have no depth at all. They can’t handle trial or tribulation. They can’t deal with “going through” anything because they think the enemy is behind everything bad that happens to them. They don’t recognize that their choices have consequences and choose to ignore the results for their behavior. They don’t learn from their experiences, because they don’t seek God for what they go through. They just run from person to person, expecting someone else’s prayer, intercession, or advice to pull them out of their situation.
I’ve reached a point where I am often unsure how to respond to people who seek advice or even who seek out prayer when I do not know them. I’ve found that, of late, people almost demand it from me. They don’t ask me how I am, make pleasantries, or approach me with respect; the first thing out of their mouths is, “I need prayer. Pray for me.” When they elaborate, I often find I don’t want to unite with them in prayer because what they are really seeking to do is find an ally for witchcraft. They want someone else in their lives to do something and want someone to pray, in the Name of God, that it happens the way they seek – not God’s will in the situation. Or, better yet, they tell me how they want a “word.” There are people who add me as a friend on Facebook and, less than five minutes later, come and hit me up – “I need/want a right now word from God.” Well, go get yourself a right now word from God! Go pray, go seek His face, go meet with Him, go read the Word! It does not say “psychic oracle’ on my page. I am not sitting on here to give people a “word.” We are too “word dependent,” and needing a “word” or constant prayer for situation after endless situation all the time tells me you are not nearly as deep in God as you need to be. It makes you a junkie – an addict – someone who can’t get through the day because they do not have a relationship with God that is healthy and functional.
Then I find the opposite extreme: people who just want to whine. This makes the obnoxious people mentioned earlier even more obnoxious. They don’t want help, they want to complain. They don’t want to change, they want to be heard, over and over and over again. Did I mention these obnoxious types are often leaders, and those with no depth their followers? Are we noting a pattern here? While leaders clamber to be liked, popular, and keep people happy, they are losing the truth of the Word, and the intent of its purpose. In catering to what people want, they are not giving the people what they need – and the people search for any infilling, rather than the indwelling of the Spirit.
Then there are those somewhere in the middle, like myself: those who struggle for the balance of depth. Sometimes they talk about “deep folk” in terms of the obnoxious ones who, although appear deep, they know really aren’t. Such as these constantly struggle for purpose and meaning, observing what they see around themselves. In the search for balance, I know these may often feel swallowed up or ignored, as people follow one extreme, or the other, instead of heeding sound reasoning and judgment.
The Word uses the term “deep” in many different connotations. The Spirit of God hovered over the deep in creation (Genesis 1:2), the sea is spoken of as being “the deep” (Job 28:14), emotional voids are considered “deep” (Psalm 18:16), one can be moved by emotion as “deep” (Genesis 43:30), to refer to literal depth (Leviticus 13:34), or to refer to a spiritual depth (Psalm 42:7). For example, the Word tells us to “Come out into the deep, and I will give you a haul” (Luke 5:4). These varied connotations show us that depth can be an endless void, or a search of purpose that draws us closer to God.
Psalm 42:7 says: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” (NIV) I think the people of God need to step back and start to see depth differently: see that true deep calls unto deep. God wants us to be deep enough to understand the Word and reach out to others, but not become so deep that we are lost within it. In our pursuit to not be this or that, the church is drowning instead of finding a way to be carried away in God’s spiritual wave of the Spirit.
I long for a time when the church can speak, one to another, in edification and purpose rather than in constant bickering and arguments. I long for teaching that is interesting. I am tired of turning on the television and hearing stories about chicken coupons, hugging the toilet while crying because someone doesn’t get their way, prosperity, and endless calls to positive thinking. I long to hear a popular message that relates to something I actually go through and can help me get to a better place rather than having to go and find the answers to those issues myself. I know that I am able to do that to help someone else…but some days I’d just like to hear that someone with a substantial audience is on the same page and offering something useful to people instead of blowing smoke up their rear ends. I have days when I don’t want to see or hear any of it – not a debate, an issue, or a problem…and yet I pull myself together, once again, to do the work of the apostle. I don’t say much, I don’t complain, and I do not bring any issues I may have to very many, because I don’t trust where they will wind up. I don’t say much or ask for prayer often because I can’t bear that sting of judgment, the strain of never-ending advice, the criticisms for struggles, and the words disguised as encouragement that are merely clichés to brush off genuine concern and support. I am finding I don’t even discuss my observations about the church or about the state of leadership with many, because they either don’t understand or don’t see it the same way. Regardless…I am here, and I listen…and support…and pray…and teach…in the continual pursuit to know Him deeper and truer, no matter what the cost. No matter what I may feel, I will continue to work and learn how to be all things to all people, and providing the level of depth and understanding that will help the church to grow to where we need to be.
Philippians 3:10-11 (AMP) says: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].” Herein lies God’s call to depth: that we may have a better, deeper, and more powerful understanding of spiritual things. I am ready to go out into the deep. I am tired of playing in the kiddies’ pool (a place of their own territory that’s comfortable to them) with ministers who just want to shove you under water and try to drown you (but, fortunately their pool is too shallow to do much damage), and with those who want to splash on the shore, yet pull you under in their attempt to float. Out in the deep, we can know God in a way we can’t hugging the shoreline. We can walk on water. We can witness God’s wonders, and His power. I’m seeking to go out deeper than ever before. I know the further I go, the farther I will get from those who aren’t serious about the things of God, and the more connected I shall become to those who are truly Kingdom, truly of the Body of Christ, and truly of His purposes. Out in the deep, we have but one purpose: to know Him, and the power of His resurrection.
I hope to see you out there in His purpose, walking on the water with me. Come, and let’s call the deep unto deep.
(c) 2012 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.