Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…


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pause and plant

“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” — 2 Peter 1:5-11

This scripture has hung in my heart and mind all week. I’ve read it before, but its call to a personal and active maturing captured my attention this time around. How often are we guilty of reading scripture, desiring to grow, but not taking the necessary steps to actual growth? True confessions: I’m guilty.

This passage in 2 Peter calls us to “make very effort.” Not to make AN effort, but EVERY effort. That means it’s up to me. It doesn’t call me to a lackadaisical approach, but a full on pursuit.

I love scripture. It captures my heart, mind and imagination with the stories of how:
– God performed miracles among the Israelite’s (the manna, parting the Red Sea, Abraham and Sarah)

– The promises God has for us today (He’s preparing a place for us in Heaven, He is FOR us and not AGAINST us, He heals the ache in the heart of the hopeless)

-And its call for higher living (love your neighbor as yourself, take care of the widows and orphans, defend the cause of the fatherless)

All of that is fine on the surface. They are nice little stories and sentences that make us feel good and give us hope. I go back to them over and over again when I feel weak or insignificant or maligned. But when I’m being honest with myself (and you), it’s not often that I pause and plant my feet in them, making a conscious effort to live them out in fullness. Sure, in part scripture encourages me and sets me back on the path. But the all-out pursuit isn’t there like it is with a fitness regimen or when I’m planning a vacation or organizing a work event. Those are times when I focus and work hard (“make every effort”) to accomplish a goal so that I’m not “ineffective and unproductive.”

When I think about my faith, what is the difference that keeps me from the pursuit? Me. Like so many, I am my worst enemy.

I write this as much for you all to consider, as for me to grasp. I feel like Paul when he wrote to the Corinthian church about running in such a way to receive the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

I am thankful that as I run the race – as I work at maturing my faith, self-control, godliness, love and the others – it is for something more than just being “better.” I’m thankful that it’s not my effort that saves me (only His grace can do that), but my efforts do confirm God’s work in me. The constant growth keeps me effective, productive and in-tune with Jesus and what His life and death means in my life. It keeps my eyes open to the pain and brokenness that surrounds. It guarantees that I will not stumble, even when life gets difficult. It confirms that I am His – not just in word, but in deed.

So let me ask the difficult question: are you making “every” effort or just “an” effort? Have you paused to plant your feet in the promises of scripture or are you tip toeing across the surface? What is holding you back from the pursuit? I’d love to hear your stories!

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intersections

Life is comprised of intersections. Some are small ones – just a stop sign where you take a quick inventory of your surroundings before moving on. Some are larger ones – a traffic light with two left-turn lanes and multiple traveling lanes that require you to stop and wait your turn before proceeding.

What we do at these intersections is what shapes our lives. Do we blow through the stop sign and risk a fender-bender? Do we wait too long at the traffic light and get honked at? Do we floor the gas off the top of a green light and risk someone running the yellow and getting hit? In all of these situations it’s a question of how we evaluate the intersection before moving forward.

Our life, thankfully, isn’t one intersection after another. Rather most of our time is spent traveling from one junction to the next. But the intersection moments are where we make the most important decisions in our lives.

I have several friends who are at intersections in their life – some large, some small and some that don’t even realize they are at a juncture. (The overlooked intersections where it’s simply two roads meeting without a stop sign or light.) From pregnancies and engagements, to job issues and love dilemmas, to house purchases and faith questions – each is an intersection moment. I’m honored to be in the car with these friends as they journey through life and make the choice to turn left, right, proceed forward or make a U-turn.

I take courage in that they are not alone as they face difficult choices and receive exciting news. And I find encouragement knowing I’m not alone as I do the same. This moment will always be part of their story – my story – your story. It will be a marker that they return to, recalling who was with them as a cheerleader or coach.

The great question is what is your responsibility in this moment? I don’t think it looks the same for anyone or any intersection, but is incredibly unique based on each person involved – both driver and passenger. Who are the people around you at an intersection moment? What is your intersection moment? Who is in the car with you? I’d love to hear your stories!


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reaching for god’s hand

Earlier this week I saw a child walking with his father along the road. The little boy was talking and laughing, lagging a few steps behind while his dad. All the while his dad kept glancing over his shoulder, keeping an eye on him and responding back as the child chattered. As my car passed by, the last thing I saw was the boy reaching up and forward for his dad’s hand. His father opened his hand and wrapped his fingers around his son’s, smiling down at him.

Isn’t that what our relationship with God, our Abba Father, should be like? We following so closely to Him, in constant conversation (prayer) and doing our best to keep in step with Him. All the while our Father keeping an eye over His shoulder at us as He leads the way.

I can imagine God’s gaze resting on me as my mouth runs wild with details of what happened that day. As I share about my dreams and fears. As I get lost in the moment and talk to Him as if He’s my very best friend, rather than the Lord of the universe. (But isn’t that what He wants anyway?)

I can imagine God smiling that all-knowing smile that says, “If you only knew that what you think are big problems are actually small issues.”

I can imagine God reaching His hand for mine to guide me with a little more surety – not for His sake, but for mine.

And yet as an adult I believe I’ve got it figured out. I know how to pray and keep in step and spend time with my Abba Father. But do I really? When I hit pause on everything in my life and focus on my relationship with the Lord, I know I’m just a child. But I’m His child. And as His daughter I want to be someone who reaches up and out to hold His hand. To feel the comfort that He is leading the way. That His grip on me will pull me forward, keep me from stumbling into danger (and traffic), and lift me up when I trip. I want to feel His gaze on me as He listens to me talking about my day and praying about the “big” things that are really so small.