If you’ve listened to Christian radio within the past few years, I’m sure you’ve heard the song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong.
When it first came out, I loved the sense of inspiration and boldness that came with it. Visions of going to new places, starting new things, traveling to countries where I didn’t speak the language, and doing things that seemed a little scary all crossed my mind while singing along heartily to the radio (I do this with most songs on the radio while driving, whether I completely agree with them or not!).
As it turned out, I ended up doing none of those things, but I still had a distant, misty-eyed vision of “someday” – someday I’ll “walk upon the waters” as the song said. I’ll go on some missions trip where my faith will really be tested. Or maybe I’ll decide to do something “daring” and “big” for the sake of the Gospel. And that’s when my trust will truly be without borders.
When that song came on the radio again today, though, I suddenly realized what it was truly asking of God. And I wondered if we really mean it when we so sentimentally sing along with it.
Because the truth about trust without borders? It’s tested in dozens of ways we most frequently resist.
Like when the deepest prayers of your heart aren’t answered the way you want them to be.
Like when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer.
Like when a father walks away from his family.
Like when a family member says, “I don’t think I believe in God anymore.”
Like when you fall in love with someone and they don’t love you back.
Like when you lose a baby – or when the baby is born with an incurable disease.
Like when you can’t conceive a child at all.
Like when friendships dissolve and hurts don’t seem like they will ever be healed.
When the lyrics say, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,” that deepness is pretty scary. Do we actually want it? Or do we want a sanitized, “safe” kind of faith? The kind of faith that says the above, but actually means, “Take me as deep as I can understand, but any further than that, I’m grabbing a life preserver and swimming back to shore”?
The truth of the song is that our faith will be made stronger in the presence of our Savior. Not in trying to understand the deepest, hardest parts of life – the parts that hurt our heart and make us wonder if God is even there.
We feel weak and like we’re sinking – and we will sink if we keep our eyes on the storm around us, like Peter did when Jesus called him to walk on water. But Jesus gently directed Peter’s eyes back to Him – his source of strength, the only way he could keep moving forward.
And He does the same to us. He’s never failed. And He won’t start now. Sometimes God doesn’t take that hard thing away from us. Sometimes it stays, despite our whispered pleas and our shouted despair. But He always brings us something bigger than the hard thing – Himself.
Because right there – in the middle of confusion and life’s messiness – we either have to trust Him or we have to turn from Him. Trusting Him in that moment means no borders. No limits on what we believe God can do. No “fail-safe” edges where we say, “I’ll trust you this far, and no farther.”
True trust doesn’t work like that. True trust means, “I can’t feel the bottom right now, and it terrifies me, but I’m going to believe that you won’t let go of my hand and that you’ll lead me to safety.”
The safest place to be in life’s chaos is in the arms of our Savior. Sometimes just resting in Him and breathing, like the other songs say. Sometimes just listening to those songs of promise on repeat so that they echo through your mind all day.
Because some days, all you have to cling to are the promises of Scripture – that God is strong and that He is loving. Strong enough to hold all of our burdens and loving enough to wipe away every tear that falls because of them.
And we do “find Him in the mystery” – the mystery of faith strengthening when it should crumble. The mystery of comfort when your heart feels squeezed under the pressure. The mystery of hope when all else seems dismal.
The waters He will call us to probably won’t have anything to do with adventure and travel and “discovery.” The waters of reality will probably be a lot murkier than we want them to be. They will most likely be hard and painful. We will wish they didn’t exist.
But He does promise to make beauty even out of the most painful circumstances. We might not see it now – or for many years, even – but God is faithful and He won’t ever let us go. When our feet truly do stumble and fail, He’ll lift us up, again and again.
He’ll be the hope that the world can’t offer – and we will know Him like we never dreamed we possibly could.