Way Over Our Heads

Last Thursday I had just returned from a day of meetings in Los Angeles. Among others we’d met with one of the producers of the Spider-Man franchise, who is a passionate believer, was deeply impacted by THE SHACK and wants to help us bring the movie to screen. One of the things he said was, “Do you realize what you have the opportunity to do? You get show what a flower looks like God walks past it in a garden.” Wow! That makes me quiver!

I was relating that story to my wife and daughter who had brought the grandkids over for dinner. My daughter asked, “Do you guys ever stop and think that you might be way in over your heads here?”

Sara and I howled in laughter. Of course we are! I told Julie that I haven’t touched the bottom of the lake in so long, I don’t remember what it feels like anymore.

For the last 12 years God has asked us to be involved in all kinds of things that we’re not capable of doing, nor did we have the means on our own to make them happen. Whether it has been BridgeBuilder negotiations, publishing, or traveling around the world without a safety net. But we have seen him provide over and over exactly what we needed and brothers and sisters to share our lives with in the process.

Somehow in all of that we learned how to ride the top of the water spiritually speaking, by relaxing into his love. What a shock it has been! I didn’t know it, but for most of my life I’ve begged God to keep me in the shallow water by praying for circumstances that were predictable, manageable and comfortable. And I was always so angry and frustrated when he didn’t fix the circumstances that troubled me so that I could be happy.

But that’s not where life is lived for most of us. I never learned how much his love and grace could carry me through. All along he wanted to teach me how to swim on the top so that I could go places with him far beyond the shoreline. For the last dozen years or so, I’ve been learning to live with my security is in his love for me, not in being able to touch the bottom.

i honestly think that’s how many of us have misunderstood this Christian life. We thought it meant that God would keep us in the shallows, instead of teaching us to swim over the depths. We got angry at him when things didn’t turn out as easy as we wanted, when he was using those things to move us out of our comfort zone and into his. But living in his is so much better—free, alive, adventurous and fruitful.

So now I have no idea where the bottom is and I honestly don’t care anymore. When you can’t touch the bottom, it doesn’t matter if it’s 3 feet below your outstretched legs or 300. My security isn’t there anymore; I am learning top put it in God’s awesome love for me that can sustain me through anything, and accomplish his purpose not only in the circumstances I’m in, but also transforming me in the process.

And that’s not just true for me. It’s even more true for people facing far more dire circumstances than I am today. I get email every day from single moms struggling to stay afloat, people battling horrible diseases (or caring for kids who are), or people out of work or lonely and isolated. I know how frustrating all of that can be and at the same time I know that God wants to teach them to swim above those things rather than being consumed by them. That all begins with a revelation of his love and engagement with you.

His love is more certain than the rising sun. Learn to relax into him and he will become far more real to you than the fact that you, too, are in way over your head!

Share this Post!

Related post

34 Comments
  1. Lindsay July 30, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I LOVE this post! SOOO good! Relaxing in His love has made all the difference for me.

  2. Craig July 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

    This is really good stuff, Wayne. As someone who learned to swim as an adult, I can say I swim much better when I RELAX. Also kind of reminiscent of Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the lake… do I trust Him enough to get out of the boat?

  3. Lindsay July 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I LOVE this post! SOOO good! Relaxing in His love has made all the difference for me.

  4. kent July 30, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I have people look at me all the time these days with that look in their eyes of….”Do you have any idea what you are doing?” I had someone the other day asking me some questions with great concern and all I could say was…I have never been less capable of making all the dots connect to form a coherent picture but at the same time I have never been more at peace and in a place of trusting my life in Father’s hands and what it is he is up to. In over our heads is a wonderful way to describe it. We’re talking about colaborating with the Creator of the cosmos, sure we are in over our heads 🙂

  5. Craig July 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    This is really good stuff, Wayne. As someone who learned to swim as an adult, I can say I swim much better when I RELAX. Also kind of reminiscent of Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the lake… do I trust Him enough to get out of the boat?

  6. Becky July 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I swim at the local YMCA in the morning. I am not a lap swimmer. I’m not even a strong swimmer, but I always swim in the deep end where it’s WAY over my head. I make it a point not to touch the sides of the pool. Sometimes I tread water. When I first started, I would tread frantically, and become exhausted after a minute or two. But when I learned how to calm my heart (and my other body parts!)I relaxed and was able to tread much longer.
    My very favorite thing to do is to swim on my back and sometimes float. Like the treading, it took some practice to get it right, but now it is a place I like to be. The very first time it”worked” for me, something inside of me said, “this is what trusting God feels like.”
    I think that’s where we are at our best…in over our heads where we learn to trust and know that our Papa is doing the “life-guarding.”

  7. kent July 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I have people look at me all the time these days with that look in their eyes of….”Do you have any idea what you are doing?” I had someone the other day asking me some questions with great concern and all I could say was…I have never been less capable of making all the dots connect to form a coherent picture but at the same time I have never been more at peace and in a place of trusting my life in Father’s hands and what it is he is up to. In over our heads is a wonderful way to describe it. We’re talking about colaborating with the Creator of the cosmos, sure we are in over our heads 🙂

  8. Becky July 30, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    I swim at the local YMCA in the morning. I am not a lap swimmer. I’m not even a strong swimmer, but I always swim in the deep end where it’s WAY over my head. I make it a point not to touch the sides of the pool. Sometimes I tread water. When I first started, I would tread frantically, and become exhausted after a minute or two. But when I learned how to calm my heart (and my other body parts!)I relaxed and was able to tread much longer.
    My very favorite thing to do is to swim on my back and sometimes float. Like the treading, it took some practice to get it right, but now it is a place I like to be. The very first time it”worked” for me, something inside of me said, “this is what trusting God feels like.”
    I think that’s where we are at our best…in over our heads where we learn to trust and know that our Papa is doing the “life-guarding.”

  9. Bob Quick July 31, 2008 at 5:24 am

    I think we are born way over our heads.
    I also think that when we are born again
    the Lord will not let us “sink”.
    He really, really loves us.

  10. firewood July 31, 2008 at 6:47 am

    I’m sure this is true for you, Wayne, and the many, many people you get these emails from. What you fail to see is that this isn’t true for everyone. You don’t tend to get many letters from people with continued, lifelong negative experiences. Truth is, people are terrified to admit it. It doesn’t help when you laugh on your podcast and claim people WANT to have a negative view of God. I know people who have learned this from experience. They have never experienced anything from God that they would call Love. I had 2 friends in the last 20 years who bet everything on God and paid with their lives.

    As for me, no amount of waiting upon God and seeking His face, Love, or anything else has produced any revelation or engagement. I find that this Wayne think has only produced hatred toward God in my life. Now, of course, I wouldn’t expect to experience Him because I don’t want to. Now, I don’t want to experience anything.

    Go beyond the shoreline if you wish. Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.

  11. Tanya July 31, 2008 at 7:11 am

    You guys are inspiring me to take swimming lessons! (I obviously don’t know how yet, at least not above water.) I really appreciated this blog, Wayne. It is where both my husband and I find ourselves. Thank you for describing this journey in such vivid terms.

    Tanya

  12. Bob Quick July 31, 2008 at 8:24 am

    I think we are born way over our heads.
    I also think that when we are born again
    the Lord will not let us “sink”.
    He really, really loves us.

  13. firewood July 31, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I’m sure this is true for you, Wayne, and the many, many people you get these emails from. What you fail to see is that this isn’t true for everyone. You don’t tend to get many letters from people with continued, lifelong negative experiences. Truth is, people are terrified to admit it. It doesn’t help when you laugh on your podcast and claim people WANT to have a negative view of God. I know people who have learned this from experience. They have never experienced anything from God that they would call Love. I had 2 friends in the last 20 years who bet everything on God and paid with their lives.

    As for me, no amount of waiting upon God and seeking His face, Love, or anything else has produced any revelation or engagement. I find that this Wayne think has only produced hatred toward God in my life. Now, of course, I wouldn’t expect to experience Him because I don’t want to. Now, I don’t want to experience anything.

    Go beyond the shoreline if you wish. Until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore, you will not know the terror of being forever lost at sea.

  14. Tanya July 31, 2008 at 10:11 am

    You guys are inspiring me to take swimming lessons! (I obviously don’t know how yet, at least not above water.) I really appreciated this blog, Wayne. It is where both my husband and I find ourselves. Thank you for describing this journey in such vivid terms.

    Tanya

  15. Wayne July 31, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Firewood,

    I’m well aware that for some this life is difficult to see. But I am also convinced that the life of God is available to all and if it can’t be as real for people like you then I honestly have to question how real it is for me. But I know that God eventually wins out over every lie of darkness and every crisis of this age. I know people who have found rest in God’s even though their life has gone from one seemingly broken circumstance to another. I don’t think that alone keeps people from his life. And I also have known many who had a hard time seeing it only to discover after finding someone who would work it through with them that there was a block somehow in their heart or perspective that needed to be broken. As Jesus said, sometimes that comes through much prayer and fasting. While I encourage people to be gut-wrenchingly honest when things don’t work for them, I by no means want people to surrender to the illusion that this life may work for some but that for some unique reason God has excluded them. I don’t say it is easy, and for some the road may be far more challenging. But his grace is sufficient for all! We have a lifetime to let him lead us into that reality. I pray that you and others who feel the way you do, will continue to knock on the door until whatever is in the way crumbles into oblivion and the Son rises with healing in your wings.

    Please don’t give up, no matter how hard the road has been. But do consider that if what you’re doing isn’t working, that there may be another door you haven’t noticed or don’t know how to walk through.

    Wayne

  16. Kelley July 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    This post reminds me very much of the story you posted about long ago about “Rock Pools & Oceans.” (I think it was from http://www.unveiling.org) It’s such a great picture of the way God invites us to live.

  17. Wayne August 1, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Firewood,

    I’m well aware that for some this life is difficult to see. But I am also convinced that the life of God is available to all and if it can’t be as real for people like you then I honestly have to question how real it is for me. But I know that God eventually wins out over every lie of darkness and every crisis of this age. I know people who have found rest in God’s even though their life has gone from one seemingly broken circumstance to another. I don’t think that alone keeps people from his life. And I also have known many who had a hard time seeing it only to discover after finding someone who would work it through with them that there was a block somehow in their heart or perspective that needed to be broken. As Jesus said, sometimes that comes through much prayer and fasting. While I encourage people to be gut-wrenchingly honest when things don’t work for them, I by no means want people to surrender to the illusion that this life may work for some but that for some unique reason God has excluded them. I don’t say it is easy, and for some the road may be far more challenging. But his grace is sufficient for all! We have a lifetime to let him lead us into that reality. I pray that you and others who feel the way you do, will continue to knock on the door until whatever is in the way crumbles into oblivion and the Son rises with healing in your wings.

    Please don’t give up, no matter how hard the road has been. But do consider that if what you’re doing isn’t working, that there may be another door you haven’t noticed or don’t know how to walk through.

    Wayne

  18. Kelley August 1, 2008 at 1:40 am

    This post reminds me very much of the story you posted about long ago about “Rock Pools & Oceans.” (I think it was from http://www.unveiling.org) It’s such a great picture of the way God invites us to live.

  19. Aida August 1, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Kelley, I love that story and have been trying to find the link to it. It doesn’t seem to be on Lynette’s website any more unless I’m overlooking it.

    Wayne or anyone else, do you have the link to it?

  20. Aida August 1, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Kelley, I love that story and have been trying to find the link to it. It doesn’t seem to be on Lynette’s website any more unless I’m overlooking it.

    Wayne or anyone else, do you have the link to it?

  21. Becky August 1, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Dear Firewood,
    Thanks for your candid response to Wayne’s blog and others comments. It IS important for us to remember not only that from which we have come, but the journey we have taken to get where we are now.
    The first time I ever floated on my back and heard the words in my spirit, “this is what trusting God feels like,” I was at the YMCA with my middle daughter, Amy, who was sixteen at the time. She had recently undergone emergency brain surgery for an egg-sized tumor in the back of her head. The surgery was followed by 60 treatments of radiation total and she had to go twice a day. We had about an hour and a half’s drive to the hospital each day, so we would stay in Durham for the hours in between treatments. One of the ways we would pass the time was to drive to the nearby YMCA and swim, as Amy found it soothing.
    I was REALLY struggling to “trust God” at that time, because we were in this SO deep, I felt like I was drowning. I swallowed more than one gulp of water just trying to keep my head above the life-threatening circumstances my daughter was facing. We DIDN’T know the outcome and we still don’t as we live each moment. I know that sometimes people hurt, they get cancer and die, they get depressed and give up hope. I have one daughter who has wrestled with many of the same things you mentioned, and has experienced a lot of heartache in her 23 short years.
    I don’t know why some of us just seem to struggle more than others. Why do some of us suffer terrible abuses and other people appear to attain that higher plane with God untainted and effortlessly. But even then, appearances can be deceiving.
    One thing I do believe is that we are not in this alone. And we all desperatly need to know and feel that we are loved. And there is One who has loved me when I have not loved him…when I turned and walked away, He didn’t love me any less. The more I have doubted, the more real this journey has become.
    Take heart, Firewood! God’s not daunted by our cynicism. Like the rest of us, you’ve seen and perhaps experienced the heavy-hand of religion. Indeed, religion IS a repressive and pointless venture. But when you begin to LIVE LOVED, you will also love to live!

  22. Becky August 1, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Dear Firewood,
    Thanks for your candid response to Wayne’s blog and others comments. It IS important for us to remember not only that from which we have come, but the journey we have taken to get where we are now.
    The first time I ever floated on my back and heard the words in my spirit, “this is what trusting God feels like,” I was at the YMCA with my middle daughter, Amy, who was sixteen at the time. She had recently undergone emergency brain surgery for an egg-sized tumor in the back of her head. The surgery was followed by 60 treatments of radiation total and she had to go twice a day. We had about an hour and a half’s drive to the hospital each day, so we would stay in Durham for the hours in between treatments. One of the ways we would pass the time was to drive to the nearby YMCA and swim, as Amy found it soothing.
    I was REALLY struggling to “trust God” at that time, because we were in this SO deep, I felt like I was drowning. I swallowed more than one gulp of water just trying to keep my head above the life-threatening circumstances my daughter was facing. We DIDN’T know the outcome and we still don’t as we live each moment. I know that sometimes people hurt, they get cancer and die, they get depressed and give up hope. I have one daughter who has wrestled with many of the same things you mentioned, and has experienced a lot of heartache in her 23 short years.
    I don’t know why some of us just seem to struggle more than others. Why do some of us suffer terrible abuses and other people appear to attain that higher plane with God untainted and effortlessly. But even then, appearances can be deceiving.
    One thing I do believe is that we are not in this alone. And we all desperatly need to know and feel that we are loved. And there is One who has loved me when I have not loved him…when I turned and walked away, He didn’t love me any less. The more I have doubted, the more real this journey has become.
    Take heart, Firewood! God’s not daunted by our cynicism. Like the rest of us, you’ve seen and perhaps experienced the heavy-hand of religion. Indeed, religion IS a repressive and pointless venture. But when you begin to LIVE LOVED, you will also love to live!

  23. Jennifer August 4, 2008 at 12:25 am

    Becky siad:
    Take heart, Firewood! God’s not daunted by our cynicism. Like the rest of us, you’ve seen and perhaps experienced the heavy-hand of religion. Indeed, religion IS a repressive and pointless venture. But when you begin to LIVE LOVED, you will also love to live

    The heavy hand of religion is a good way to put it. I’m thinking it might have to do with our expectancy for God to perform? I don’t really know and I don’t want to say that all people who become disappointed with God are doing that, but in my experience I had to meet God as He is, not as I perceived Him to be, and when that happened everything changed. I wish it could be taught, but God is so unexpected and comes so uniquely to each person. Some people find God in Russian Orthodoxy and love worshiping Him with all the formality but are internally free in spirit and living loved, while others need the bare essentials.

    Firewood, I hope you will keep looking for a sandbar if you don’t want to go back to shore. My heart goes out to you.

  24. Jennifer August 4, 2008 at 3:25 am

    Becky siad:
    Take heart, Firewood! God’s not daunted by our cynicism. Like the rest of us, you’ve seen and perhaps experienced the heavy-hand of religion. Indeed, religion IS a repressive and pointless venture. But when you begin to LIVE LOVED, you will also love to live

    The heavy hand of religion is a good way to put it. I’m thinking it might have to do with our expectancy for God to perform? I don’t really know and I don’t want to say that all people who become disappointed with God are doing that, but in my experience I had to meet God as He is, not as I perceived Him to be, and when that happened everything changed. I wish it could be taught, but God is so unexpected and comes so uniquely to each person. Some people find God in Russian Orthodoxy and love worshiping Him with all the formality but are internally free in spirit and living loved, while others need the bare essentials.

    Firewood, I hope you will keep looking for a sandbar if you don’t want to go back to shore. My heart goes out to you.

  25. AmyBowman August 6, 2008 at 7:01 am

    This was so perfectly encouraging for me today. Thank you, Wayne!

  26. AmyBowman August 6, 2008 at 10:01 am

    This was so perfectly encouraging for me today. Thank you, Wayne!

  27. Nils August 7, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Kelley & Aida, here’s the link for the article “Rocks, Pools, & Oceans.” It’s one of my favourites, one that I find refreshing to read every now and then.

    http://www.unveiling.org/Articles/ocean.html

  28. Nils August 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Kelley & Aida, here’s the link for the article “Rocks, Pools, & Oceans.” It’s one of my favourites, one that I find refreshing to read every now and then.

    http://www.unveiling.org/Articles/ocean.html

  29. Aida August 8, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Nils, thank you for that link. I have tried to find it several times but couldn’t. I wanted to read it and also share it with friends because it was such an encouragement to me. You’ve made my day.

  30. Aida August 8, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Nils, thank you for that link. I have tried to find it several times but couldn’t. I wanted to read it and also share it with friends because it was such an encouragement to me. You’ve made my day.

  31. tina gasperson August 11, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    I was thinking along the same lines for myself. I’ve closed so many open doors in my life because I doubted or it was too much or I was just scared. I just blogged about that – I’m going to do things differently now. http://tina.gasperson.com/2008/08/10/walking-through-open-doors/

  32. tina gasperson August 11, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I was thinking along the same lines for myself. I’ve closed so many open doors in my life because I doubted or it was too much or I was just scared. I just blogged about that – I’m going to do things differently now. http://tina.gasperson.com/2008/08/10/walking-through-open-doors/

  33. roberta August 23, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I am new to Wayne and new to this website and I am now hooked. Having , along with others, just met with Wayne in our small UP city of Marquette I am drawn immediately to the heart of God. It isn’t an unfamiliar place but it is always so refreshing to find a new kindred spirit. Along a similar line of the above floating or swimming analogy, I think of those rare moments when my kinked up neck actually relaxes. Like trying to find the bottom sand, I seem to work so hard to ‘just be” free of tension. Sometimes I need someone else’s interention (chiropractor or hubby’s massage). Well,I feel like i’ve just had some spiritual massaging this weekend. And I’m so glad that I can continue in this fellowship by having access to this website as well as Wayne’s books and articles . No one ( ie Wayne) is “an answer” but the Lord gives us one another to fit together pieces of His heart in our lives and to equip us. I’m feeling both humbled and amazingly loved by God because I get to swim in this huge ocean!!! . PS…I’m glad it’s just an analogy because I really DON’T like to swim!!!!:>)

  34. roberta August 23, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    I am new to Wayne and new to this website and I am now hooked. Having , along with others, just met with Wayne in our small UP city of Marquette I am drawn immediately to the heart of God. It isn’t an unfamiliar place but it is always so refreshing to find a new kindred spirit. Along a similar line of the above floating or swimming analogy, I think of those rare moments when my kinked up neck actually relaxes. Like trying to find the bottom sand, I seem to work so hard to ‘just be” free of tension. Sometimes I need someone else’s interention (chiropractor or hubby’s massage). Well,I feel like i’ve just had some spiritual massaging this weekend. And I’m so glad that I can continue in this fellowship by having access to this website as well as Wayne’s books and articles . No one ( ie Wayne) is “an answer” but the Lord gives us one another to fit together pieces of His heart in our lives and to equip us. I’m feeling both humbled and amazingly loved by God because I get to swim in this huge ocean!!! . PS…I’m glad it’s just an analogy because I really DON’T like to swim!!!!:>)

Comments are closed.