Going deeper is a lot like coal mining

I asked God to take me deeper. I didn’t know what I meant in asking that, exactly, but I had heard others who were far more spiritual than I ask it, so I thought I should, too.

“Take me deeper, God.” 

I suppose I was asking for a closer relationship with Him, one that was more intimate and included more revelations about who He is and how He’s involved in my life. Perhaps I meant a different-looking journey with Him; a place of increased trust and reliance.

But I asked for depth, and that’s exactly what He gave. Perhaps I should have asked for smiles and laughter, because when you ask for depth and He gives it, you get everything that comes with deep places.

Darkness.

Isolation.

Increased pressure.

Disorientation.

Loneliness.

It makes me think of a documentary I saw once about coal miners in the heart of West Virginia. Men with soot-covered faces walk into a tunnel that leads to the mouth of a mine, carrying paper bag lunches and the prayers of loved ones that this won’t be the day of disaster. They travel thousands of feet down into the bowels of the earth, doing back-breaking labor that’s among the riskiest on earth.

Depth for them isn’t beautiful. It’s not a place of ease and rest, and it’s not a place without risk. Depth is hard. It’s dirty, risky, dangerous, and dark. It’s not a job many people want. 

Depth with God is very much the same.

I don’t know why I picture my walk with God like the one Adam and Eve had before the fall. I don’t know why I think it will be in the midst of lush beauty with unbroken fellowship and pure innocence.

I don’t live in the garden, and I do live in a world riddled with sin. I can have fellowship with God, yes, but fellowship with depth looks a lot more like coal mining than living covered by fig leaves.

When I asked God to take me deeper, I didn’t know His yes would mean everything changing. I didn’t understand that when I asked for more of Him, I was granting Him permission to take away anything that was less.

It meant losing relationships. Changing churches. Seeing myself for who I was and how that girl wasn’t truly following Jesus. It meant walking through the process of forgiveness – not just going through the motions of it.

It meant facing difficult truths. Realizing the gospel that governed my life wasn’t the gospel of the Scriptures. Asking how I needed to change and giving myself grace to do it. It meant stepping away from what I knew of the Holy Spirit and limping towards the truth of who He is.

The addition of depth also means the subtraction of shallow, and this is what we can fail to understand – shallow is comfortable. It’s manageable. It’s predictable. It’s less dangerous.

But it’s also, well, shallow.

God did not call us from death in order to live half-alive. He did not save us for safety and  predictability. He did not sacrifice everything for us to remain in shallow places.

When we ask for depth – and really mean it – he will take us deeper. And it will be far different than what we imagine.

Coal mining is, by nature, a dangerous profession. Men are often injured, and if a mine collapses, death is virtually guaranteed. Why, then, do miners go back day after day? More than that, why do they go back generation after generation?

They go back because it’s who they are. It’s in their blood. They are miners. 

Why do we believers ask for depth when we’re not even certain what that means? Why do we continue to chase closeness with God when it’s dark, isolating, and full of pressure? Because that’s who we are. We’re depth-chasers. Depth with Christ is built in to our spirits, and even though we don’t understand it, it’s a necessity for us. We instinctively know there’s more for us than just shallow places.

It’s in our blood.

I didn’t know when I asked God to take me deeper what it would look like. Now, on the other side, I know. 

Yes, it was dark. It was disorienting. It was not a place of safety.

But there in the depths, as in the mines, there was treasure. It was hidden, and I had to dig, but with time and tenacity, I found it. There in the mines, I found exactly what – Who – I needed.

We find treasure in deep places, and that’s why it’s worth it to ask, even when we’re not sure what it means. 

Jennie G. Scott is a former high school English teacher who now uses her love of words to share the hope of the Kingdom. A writer, speaker, and runner, she is a self-described deep thinker who can spend way more time than she should choosing the just-right word. She is a mom of two who has journeyed through single parenthood into marriage with the most patient man on the planet. She writes online at www.jenniegscott.com and encourages women to be OK with being themselves on her weekly Podcast, In This Skin.

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