Don't Settle for Shallow Living

It’s hard to fully distinguish all the Robin Hood movies from one another. I haven’t watched them all, but I’m old enough to have seen the 1991 version with Kevin Costner, and young enough to remember it! (A hearty high-five to the ‘90s!)

In one scene, the merry band of thieves come under attack by the Sheriff of Nottingham’s soldiers. Upon seeing the approaching enemy forces, one yells, “To the trees! To the trees!” This rally cry alerts Robin Hood’s gang to the incoming threat while rousing them to action.

Perhaps we need a similar rally cry today.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

We have an enemy devoted to our destruction. We need to wake up to the reality that we live under threat. The threat coming for us is not always as obvious as war-crazed mercenaries. It can be subtle in its intent to destroy. Attractive, even.

We foolishly welcome this threat into our hearts and homes. Our predator disguises himself as safe and charming, then slowly proceeds to attack us. Day by day, we become familiar with his gentle nips at our heels. So familiar that we don’t realize he’s taken our legs out from beneath us until we’re completely immobile.

What threat is this, you ask? The snare of the comfortable. The safe, shallow waters of the easy life.

LIFE IN THE SHALLOWS

The easy life is free of obstacles, makes no demands on us, and generally promises we’ll get our way. It’s pleasure and comfort here and now. The lures of the easy life come for us all.

The lures of the easy life come for us all.

They come for me when I hesitate to give beyond my ability to a need within my local church. The temptation to store up treasures for myself exists within that hesitation.

The lures come when I’m tempted to just dole out a punishment for my son’s disobedience instead of taking time to address his heart. When I respond to others’ suffering with indifference, ignore time in God’s word, keep my neighbors at a safe distance to avoid getting pulled into their drama, or choose personal comfort over grace-fueled obedience, I’m only paddling around in the shallow waters.

Pursuers of easy living believe they thrive in the shallows. But to those brave enough to want more than earthly ease, who will embrace inconvenience and messiness, pain and even loss, investing in others’ lives so they might know the risen Christ, I say, “To the deeps! To the deeps!”

BEWARE THE LURES OF SHALLOW LIVING

Beware the snare of the promise of that easy life. It's a fool’s hope. Jesus teaches that in this world, we will have tribulation (John 16:33). Tribulation is great trouble or suffering. That doesn’t sound like the easy life the world dangles before our faces when it says things like: “You deserve this.” “It’s time to retire and travel.” “Somebody else will speak up.” “Do what makes you happy.” “It isn’t safe to live there—think of your children!”

Beware the lures. They come for you.

Search your heart. Do you long for the easy life or the crucified life? Do you prefer smooth days over dying to your flesh daily?

My own questions find me guilty. Father, forgive me. Forgive us all for pursuing the easy life when you call us into the life of your son. To share in his sufferings.

Swimming in the shallows is safe and comfortable. But I want to want more than what safety and comfort offer.

Yes, in this life we will suffer. When we risk all so others may know Jesus, we might lose. When we obey, we might invite pain and rejection. But Jesus whispers, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” He speaks this truth only in the deeps, for we don’t need courage while playing in the shallows.

Swimming in the shallows is safe and comfortable. But I want to want more than what safety and comfort offer. I desire the courage to enter spaces where I’m insufficient, and therefore needy. I want to trust him even when I don’t understand what he’s doing.

My hope is to be a woman who revels in God’s presence and inspires fellow revelers. But these desires are born in the deeps. To the deeps I must go.

TO THE DEEPS!

We mustn’t be known for our leisure while others perish in unbelief. Let us be known for our passion for God’s glory! May others witness our pilgrimage and wonder why we would give up easy waters for the challenges and uncertainties of the deeps. As our lives testify to the strangeness of gospel life, let’s speak about our father, who is not only worthy of our endeavors, but empowers them.

We won’t get to the “well done” by playing in the shallows.

I can think of many ways to make a go of the easy life. More days than I’d like to admit, I dream about the ease of shallow waters where I get what I want and little is required of me. But the daydream falls short of a better vision that is mine in Christ. A vision where he welcomes me into his kingdom with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master!” (Matt. 25:23).

We won’t get to the “well done” by playing in the shallows.

The surface doesn’t satisfy. Go deep. Go deeper still. Follow Christ into the deeps. These spaces free you from false idols. God separates you from the comforts of familiarity and surrounds you with his satisfying presence.

The shallow waters just won’t do. You were made for the deeps.

So come now. Away from your safety nets and contingency plans. Abandon your exit strategies and plunge into the deeps with your king. Our rally cry is “To the deeps!”


Christy Britton is a wife and mom to four boys. She writes Bible study curriculum for Docent Research Group and serves as the Discipleship Classes Coordinator for Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. She is an orphan advocate with 127 Worldwide and contributes administratively to bring pastor training opportunities to Africa for Acts 29. You can follow her on Twitter.