My mother once told me this dream she’d had: She was swimming, alone, in a vast ocean. The water was dark and deep beneath her, and there was nothing but water everywhere she looked. She began to panic, realizing that if she didn’t find land, she would drown. Then, as if to answer her thoughts, a voice from inside her head whispered “There is no land…”
The reality of her situation dawned slowly. There was no land, only ocean. Panic melted into dread as she considered the options before her: Stop struggling, allow herself to sink beneath the waves, and accept the embrace of the deep. Or, she could continue to struggle, treading water until her limbs fail her, pathetically gulping for one last breath before the water claims her anyway. The dream ended as she was still considering what to do. When she woke, she felt the Lord telling her that the dream was meant to illustrate the intensity and scope of His love.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is” (Ephesians 3:18 NLT). The enemy works extra hard to convince us that God’s love is small, shallow, easily exhausted, and easily escaped. Instead of an ocean of love, we imagine a sad little puddle. And so, many people live with anxiety that this puddle will dry up at any moment. Contrast this with the Psalmist’s observation: “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8 NLT).
Love is a funny thing. On the one hand, people believe that it is the answer to the world’s problems. 1 John 4:16 goes surprisingly far as to say that God is love. What percentage of songs are written about love, do you suppose? How many films or books feature love as the central theme, the prize to be won, or the solution to the problem? How many religious traditions describe love as the highest, most perfect virtue? To the outside observer, it might seem like human beings have a love-fixation.
On the other hand, we tend to want love to stay within certain parameters. If someone seems to love us far more than we love them, it makes us feel uncomfortable, guilty, or even resentful. If someone appears too extravagant with their love, or unrestrained, we wonder if they are mentally imbalanced. We like it when love makes sense…you love me because I’ve given you good reasons to love me: because I’m talented, kind, or good-looking. And, ultimately, we prefer a love that we can walk away from if we need to.But what do we do with a love as vast and deep as an endless ocean? A love that is “… more powerful than death, stronger than the grave” (Song of Songs 8:6)? How do we accept a
love that we didn’t earn or deserve? We have two choices: We can struggle against this
illogical, overpowering love. We can question it, doubt it, try to restrain it. We can live our lives trying to negotiate our worthiness, or trying to test it’s limits. But I think we would be much wiser to stop the struggle. Let ourselves sink into the unfathomable depths of His perfect love. Each morning, we should remind ourselves that we are adrift in a sea of grace, loved beyond rescue.
Dustin Groeneman, YWAM Harpenden Staff