By Mary J. Moerbe
My family went on an outing to an aquarium and we marveled at God’s creation. A part of creation, mind you, that human eyes rarely see. Even to this day, there are depths unexplored and discoveries to be made.
The wonders we saw reminded me that in a very real sense God made creation for Himself. He may have delights in creation we are utterly unaware of: sights, sounds, and textures known only to Himself. Yet, they are not withheld from us. They only await discovery.
In Scripture, there is depth to the sea and depth to the earth. A quick survey indicates that the faithful Israelites were quicker to reference holes than shoals, land rather than sea. Still, these days we may be more consumed with concern about our own depth than other forms of it. So often we seek depth in our hearts and souls, when these are far from bastions of goodness. In our fallen condition, our depths are as likely to reveal the extent of our depravity as anything else.
Yet God’s Word continues to call. With its unique role in creation, and the life breathed through it by the Holy Spirit, it literally goes everywhere. There is no height, nor depth, nor far reaches of the universe that exists apart from it and the Will of God.
Human depth is not in competition with the depths outside of us. Quite the opposite: our God brings the infinite to the finite, withholding nothing from those found in His Son. He gives the infinite in something as mundane as words, water, bread and wine.
Our Redeemer and Creator lets us swim in His Word. He provides both the depth and oxygen we need. He makes us wet in baptism and instructs us to remain in it and His Word. We get to swim in His creation too, exploring and cultivating as we go along.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, but are we, as laypeople, preferring the dull over digging for treasures? Are we plumbing the depths of that Word? Or the depths of anything at all? God is willing, but His people are weak.
Now, some people can swim deeper than others, and I won’t say there is something “wrong” about that. I am not saying everyone needs to become a scuba diver of the Word in order to pass a litmus test of Christianity. On the contrary, maybe it is understandable when people react as though drowning when they are suddenly thrown into a study they are not ready for.
Consider this: some people never experience a probing conversation, religious or otherwise. Some never take time to ponder. Some, dare I say, are shallow, because that is all they know to experience. Having never dug through layers, they may no longer know how, or when, to dig.
But maybe you can! Now, you may not discover Atlantis or the cure for cancer, but maybe you can delve a little deeper into what you are doing right now. Maybe you can focus your attention a little better, not to make this a new entry on your to do list, but because this world is still full of God’s handiwork, in the person before you and the things all around you. Maybe you can even share a few perspectives or ask a couple of thought-provoking questions to dig toward a little more community depth.
You—or a friend—may even rest better, recognizing that there is no limit on how much we can cultivate the faith or God’s creation, minds included. As much as we can stretch our human understanding, our Lord still guides and teaches further. There is always more in store for us from the depths and riches of God’s storehouse of blessing, given to us for the sake of Christ: nothing is withheld.
Now is a time to seek sharpening among those God has given to us. Not as a new hobby, but because swords need to be sharp, tools need to be crafted, and not a one of us is a finished product yet. There are depths unexplored and discoveries to be made, so let’s get our shovels and hoes ready.
For me, writing helps. I may not stay up late talking the way I did in stages past, but I can think a bit more closely as I see things on paper. I can take something and hone in the edges a little. I can sharpen a few sentences or paragraphs at a time.
One benefit of writing is practice plumbing words, expressions, stories, background, worldviews, settings, sequence, beauty, and truth. It sets something before your eyes for your consideration. And even better, may it train us to imbibe the Word of God as the life-giving Word it is.
Now is a time for Bible studies for the sharpened, sharpening, and those in need of sharpening, or, to use a water analogy, for divers, swimmers, waders, and those barely wet in the water of holy Baptism. Now is a time to write Lutheran books of fiction and non-fiction, poetry, posts, and encouragements. Right now is a time for resources for the church!
In the words of a collect by Thomas Cranmer:
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by the patience and comfort of Thy holy Word we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which Thou has given us, in our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 14).
May iron sharpen iron, and happy swimming!