Boundless

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“It seemed like the weariness wasn’t coming ‘at’ me it was ‘in’ me. It was in my bones.”


O boundless salvation! deep ocean of love,

O fullness of mercy, Christ brought from above.

The whole world redeeming, so rich and so free,

Now flowing for all men, come, roll over me!

– William Booth

I was so tired and burnt out. I felt a bit hollow inside. I needed a break – and my friend happened to live in Bermuda (a small paradise). So, I took her up on an invite to go and hang out there for a week–to try and get my breath back. After a convoluted trip (forgot my ID!) and a longer journey than expected, I finally arrived. Even though I was in a tropical paradise, and with a dear friend, I was still weary. It seemed like the weariness wasn’t coming “at” me it was “in” me. It was in my bones.

On day two, I decided to go for a run. I love running … and so I strapped on my sneakers and just started to explore the place. I found a little abandoned railway track that went along the coast of the island. It was enough of a trail to run freely on; and it was breathtakingly beautiful. The waves crashed the shores, spraying me with refreshing mist. It was epic–a stunning view.

As I was running, I heard God. Now, this part sounds a bit weird. And, granted, it is hard to explain. But I heard God within me–not a voice from heaven booming down or anything dramatic like that, but a small, steady voice from inside my heart. And God said to me, “Look at the ocean.” I did. It was massive. I mean, that was all you could see. Ocean. Beautiful, clear, green and, well, huge. And then the voice spoke again, “My love for you is like that ocean.”

I looked again. I felt the spray of the waves misting my sweaty body, I felt the weariness on the inside of me get showered, too. I felt the enormity of that idea–I heard the song. The love of God was like the ocean … His love for me was like that. Every wave was pounding at the shoreline, almost daring the earth not to move.

That water is so dangerous there that it’s famous for ships never being found again. (“Bermuda Triangle,” anyone?) This love isn’t some sort of romantic kooky love, like you get when you hug a teddy bear. It’s a fierce love. A strong love. It’s deep.

And as I breathed in the song, the melody got inside of my heart, the tempo increasing and my heart correspondingly beating a bit faster. And I wept.

I wept, because I had forgotten to sing. I had been busy working and trying and giving and living, but without the song. As I sat there on that cliff, I let the waves wash me. I wanted to dive right in … but I couldn’t see a way out again. I sat there and let the voice, the song, the ocean, the spray wash over me. And I felt my strength return.

God loves me. Like a boundless ocean. Wave after wave after wave washed away my weariness like a rock being pummeled into sand. Roll over me.

Ocean of Love

Check out what Paul of Tarsus says about this boundless ocean:

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.”–Ephesians 3: 14-21 The Message

Open Ocean

This reminds me of the first time I started to train for a triathlon in open water. See, the first and most dangerous part of a triathlon is the swimming bit. And the swim is in open water.

So often people make the mistake of training only in a pool. But a pool is not the same as swimming in an ocean or even in a lake. The pool is measured, it’s blocked off so you don’t swim in a crooked fashion. You can count the laps and kick off every fifty metres. You can swim in a straight line.

That day I’d decided it was time to go for a long swim in the open ocean–I needed to get used to swimming while I navigated my direction and timed myself for distance. As I walked into the water it was the weirdest feeling. There was one guy on the beach at the time who was looking at me as strangely as I felt. I simply immersed myself into the ocean and started swimming. Where was I swimming to? I had no idea? What was the best route to take? No clue. How long was the route I’d take? Not one hint.

I was simply swimming. It was so “open,” it was a bit paralyzing. I was so free I felt like I was in danger. What if a shark ate me? No one would even know. What if a boat came along and ran me over? What if I got lost and tired in the open ocean? I mean, the whole thing was crazy.

But, soon, I let the thoughts drown out and I started to feel the rhythm of my breath and my body got into gear and I was off. It felt amazing. Here I was, one little person–in a huge ocean–all by myself, swimming my heart out. When I turned around and came back–I walked out of the water the same way I came in. The man on the shore looked at me and said, “You are a sight for sore eyes. I didn’t know where you were going!’

And I responded with a huge grin, “Neither did I.”

For some people the invitation into boundless salvation is like swimming for the first time in open water – overwhelming, scary and well, a bit, weird.

But once we walk in and start swimming – it soon becomes an exhilarating and wonderful experience. It’s a whole immersion kind of thing–and it’s amazing.

God’s intent is to bring salvation–a fullness–this boundless love into every corner of the earth, including into our own hearts. This experience is life-changing. There’s no going back.

What God wants to do is to come to us wherever we are: maybe you’re sitting in your living room, or reading this in a coffee shop; or perhaps you’re stuck in a predicament of your own digging. It doesn’t matter what our situation is– God’s love never changes. God’s love is boundless, His mercy is new every morning. God wants to awaken each one of us to His love. It’s free and boundless. God invites us to live in the overflow.

____________________

Image credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

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Danielle Strickland
Danielle serves Jesus as the Corps Officer of Crossroads Community in Edmonton, Canada. Her passion is social justice, including establishing human trafficking response teams in local situations and giving leadership to the global team for the Stop The Traffik campaign. Danielle speaks and teaches around the world and has written several books: Just Imagine: the social justice agenda, Challenging Evil and The Liberating Truth: How Jesus Empowers Women. Danielle is married and has three sons.
Danielle Strickland

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Danielle Strickland
  • I have often said that God lives at the ocean. It’s just the place I experience Him most intimately. And yes, often in both a still small voice and the vast and glorious creation that surrounds me there. This was beautiful. Thank-you for sharing.

  • the ocean is probably my fave metaphor of God’s love. having just got back from a week at the oregon coast, i spent a lot of time gazing out at the big blue endless sea. what is it about the ocean that we find so mesmerizing?

    i heard god’s voice, too, but not through the water. instead it came from a random conversation with a surfer. def need to blog about that.

    thanks for this post!!