October 20, 2018
“Shallows and Deeps”
Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, all of Scripture is alive with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“In the divine Scriptures there are shallows and there are deeps. Shallows where the lamb may wade and Deeps where the elephant may swim.” – John Owen (17th century English minister)
I ran across this wonderful quote while reading The Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn. The book is an account of the movement of the Holy Spirit in America during the 1960’s and 70’s.
Sandy and I both became Jesus followers during that revival. For her, Christ filled a spiritual void that troubled her since the age of fourteen. For me, the fearful loneliness that drove me to trust no one was swept away in a flood of God’s love.
When Jesus rescued us, we found that He could do what years of decent respectable Methodism could not do. He redeemed us, re-created us and gave us Life. For both of us, our encounters with the Lord changed everything.
One immediate change was my view of the bible. Ever since I could remember, a big family bible had adorned the coffee table of our living room. When I completed Confirmation class at age 12, I was given a bible of my own. When I joined the Navy seven years later, Uncle Sam dropped a small New Testament in my sea bag.
For me, all of those items remained unexamined. The bible to me was a divine icon; a symbol for belief in God. I had never ventured past the stories I had learned as a child in Sunday school.
But after coming to faith in Christ, I felt a great hunger to know more about him. I was still in the Navy, and had kept that little New Testament. I devoured it. I absorbed it like water into a dry sponge. No one told me I had to. I didn’t see it as a religious requirement. I saw it as a relational treasure.
It was a King James translation, confusing and strange to me. But it didn’t matter. I couldn’t express it like this at the time, but I was excited to have the words of life about the Word of Life! I wasn’t reading to study Christianity. I wanted to know more about Christ; who He is; what He had done; what He promised; and what He expected of me.
The bible is an ocean of Jesus’ truth and love. Maybe that’s why I am drawn to Owens’ reflection. In the Scripture, like the ocean, there are shallows and depths, but the whole of scripture reveals the gospel of the Kingdom. It’s all about Jesus.
As a teen I loved to fish the bays of coastal Texas. Wearing waders and towing a live bait well, I’d shuffle out onto the flats. Schools of tiny fish darted about. Cownose Rays glided silently past, the tips of their brown fins just breaking the surface. Fields of sea grass waved with the tide, concealing masses of tiny shrimp and other aquatic life.
Pierced by shimmering light, the shallows are breathtakingly beautiful. Warmed by the sun, they are rich with abundant life. Just so, the scriptures overflow with the promises of God for living. The shallows rise and ebb with steady tides of grace, peace, joy and blessings.
Ocean depths hold beauty and mystery. While deployed on an aircraft carrier I would sometimes go out on deck, stand at the rail and spend moments staring into the fathomless blue, contemplating the vastness below. There was so much more than I could see! Similarly, the deeps of scripture raise doxologies to the surface of the soul. I cannot peer into the deep things of a holy God and not feel compelled to fall to my knees in reverent awe.
Let me encourage you. Read the bible for yourself. Concerning his followers, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through the truth. Your Word is truth”. Concerning himself, Jesus said, “I am…the truth…” Concerning the Spirit, Jesus promised; “He will guide you into all truth”. And concerning the scriptures, he said, “These speak about me…”
Sandy and I read through the Bible every year. And we continually discover that all of scripture is alive with the gospel. All the shallows are alive. All the deeps are alive. And in them all, the Spirit of God speaks of and honors the Son. Wade in.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
2 Timothy 3:16