Follow Me

Close

He planted a kiss on my cheek, gave me a grinning wink, and jumped onto an open-air boat that was headed across the increasingly gray ocean and into the darkness with nothing but a wetsuit, flashlight, and an oxygen tank.

Night diving. 

My husband and I were both scuba certified over a decade ago at a lake here in Oklahoma (while there was snow on the ground, mind you, but that’s another story for another day). Since then we’ve had the opportunity to swim with sea turtles, stingrays, and amore eels in various parts of the Caribbean.

Diving is a mystery-filled adventure in somewhat of a secret underwater world. But night diving is on a whole ‘nother level (and not the sort of level I want on my bucket list). Because—let’s be real—if a shark is going to have me for dinner, I’d rather see it coming. Derek, on the other hand, was stoked at the chance to see octopus; even possibly spear some lionfish.

Before rolling off the back of the moving boat like a platoon of navy seals, the dive master offered one final word of advice:

“It’s going to be pitch black down there; you won’t be able to see your hand in front of your face. So, if you get disoriented, just feel for your bubbles. THEY ALWAYS GO UP. When in doubt, your bubbles will point you back to the surface.”

Can we be honest here? Just because someone follows Jesus doesn’t mean they’re immune from waves of doubt. Sometimes we forget what we believe, or question why we believe it. Sometimes we’re drowning in a sea of busyness or distraction and simply don’t give it much thought. The once-clear waters can turn murky and dim—leaving almost zero visibility.

That’s why we all need bubbles. 

Bubbles to look for when we get disoriented. Bubbles that point us back to the surface when we can’t remember which way is up. Bubbles that lead us to the wide open spaces of fresh and abundant air.

*Disclaimer: I’m no expert, no scholar, no professional. In fact, my goals for today include showering, making tacos, and keeping the kids alive. But I do recognize my dire need for oxygen.

So here are a few of my personal bubbles. You’re welcome to take a peek at what keeps me breathing…

 

  1. The Bible. Obvious but essential, the Bible claims to be God’s inspired Word, message, and blueprint for life. If that’s really true, and I believe it is, then we should carefully consider its significance. The Bible is actually a collection of 66 individual writings that were originally penned in three different languages over a 1,500-year period by 40ish unique authors. Whew. No doubt, it’s rich in diversity. Yet—because it was God-breathed and God-directed—there’s a remarkable unity, consistency, and one all-encompassing theme.

 

  1. Creation. Beluga whales, the human eye, electromagnetic waves, dormant volcanoes, DNA molecules, monarch butterflies, the billions of stars in the Milky Way alone, and hoards of other facets of the cosmos. From the tippy top of the universe to the deepest part of the furthest ocean. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:19-20)

 

  1. Experience. Saul, who later became Paul, went from persecuting the Church to building it. All of the disciples were either killed or imprisoned because of their unwavering stance on what they had seen and heard. Thousands upon thousands of personal stories and life transformations mark Christianity today. I’ve personally seen the weary revived, the broken restored, and the unfaithful redeemed. The way God screams in His own subtle ways is fascinating to me. Maybe I can’t explain all the things, but I’ve tasted His goodness, encountered His relentless pursuit, and felt His intimate presence in my actual real life.

 

  1. Design. The impeccable fine-tuning of Creation. The brilliant complexities in every form of life. The peculiarity of instinct. The strange coincidence of a universal morality code. The intricately cohesive laws of nature. The rhythmic patterns in physics, biology, and cosmology. Why does our universe contain something rather than nothing? Why do we have order instead of chaos? Why does it all fit together—instead of not? Some think it’s one gigantic accident. Random. Unplanned. Purposeless. And maybe it is. But maybe—just maybe—there’s a divine purpose and precision behind it all.

 

  1. Archeology. Critics have long questioned the integrity of the Bible, but archeological discoveries continue to confirm its trustworthiness. For example, many presumed King David to be mere legend, but the inscription on the Tel Dan Stele discovery references the “king of Israel” from the “house of David.” Naysayers also claimed that the Bible had surely been distorted over time and translation, but the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contained fragments of every book of the Old Testament (except Esther), proved otherwise. They also preceded the earliest manuscripts in possession by nearly 1,000 years!

 

  1. History. Whether it’s a list of kings or a series of wars or even geographical locations, biblical framework lines up with historical timelines over and over again. But what about Jesus? Sure, we have the four gospels, Paul’s letters, and other New Testament books. But what else? First-century Jewish historian Josephus references Jesus twice, as well as John the Baptist, Pilate, and James “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.” First-century Roman historian Tacitus mentions “Christ, who was executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius.” Julius Africans responded to Thallus’ work, speaking to the “most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by earthquake” that occurred at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, and Pliny the Younger wrote in detail about early Christian activity.

 

  1. Prophecy. There are thousands of Old Testament prophecies, but here are a few specifically pertaining to the Messiah—written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. I’ll let them speak for themselves: God will raise up a prophet from among the Israelite people (Deuteronomy 18:18). He’ll come from the lineage of David (Isaiah 9:7) and be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He’ll make the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isaiah 35:5-6). Though innocent (Isaiah 53:8), he’ll be betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9) for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13). He’ll be silent before his accusers (Isaiah 53:7), despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3), beaten and spit on (Isaiah 50:6), pierced in both the hands and feet (Psalm 22:16), and ultimately killed (Daniel 9:26). His clothes will be divided and gambled away (Psalm 22:18) as he dies among criminals (Isaiah 53:12) and is buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). But, he’ll be raised to life again (Psalm 16:10-11), ascend to the heights (Psalm 68:18), and will establish a brand new everlasting covenant with God’s people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Because He’s willing to bear the sins of many and intercede for rebels (Isaiah 53:12), many will be counted as righteous (Isaiah 53:11).

 

8. Jesus. Last but certainly not least, it all comes down to Him. But was Jesus really who He said He was? Did He do what He said He would do? The Kingdom of God is built on and around this essential cornerstone. Jesus Himself said, “Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38) “If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47)

 

Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. That’s where faith comes in.

Are there holes in my finite understanding? Definitely; no surprise there. That’s where the wrestling and trusting ensues.

But God hasn’t called us to a blind or naive faith. He’s given us plenty to stand on. Bottom line? We were created by God, for God, and are designed to be in a relationship with Him. He is the only real way we can have true joy in this world—and beyond.

The list above is far from exhaustive, but hopefully can serve as pockets of air when the waves are crashing down.

 

 

signature

 

 

 

brush_seperator1

 

 

Notes:

Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.9.

Tacitus, Annals 15.44.

Pliny, Letters 2.10.

Julius Africanus, Chronography 18.1.

 

External links:

Bible

Tel Dan Stele

Dead Sea Scrolls

 

Life is full of surprises. Some good, some not-so-good.

A surprise visit from your out-of-town best friend? Good surprise. A surprise twenty-dollar bill in your back pocket? Good surprise. A surprise pregnancy after years of trying? Good surprise.

But the not-so-good surprises can also take your breath away.

A child who painted a beautiful picture on your bedroom wall—with hot pink fingernail polish. A flat tire on your way to something important. An unexpected payment. An injury in the prime of your training. A heart-wrenching phone call that flips “life as you know it” on its head. A lost job, a betrayal, a terminal diagnosis.

We are all in a constant state of reacting to our surroundings, whether that be traffic or a tantrum-throwing toddler. We laugh, we cry, we yell, we go silent.

 

brush_seperator1

 

 

There’s a particularly interesting verse that always causes me to scratch my head.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Wait. What?

I would better understand if it said, “Consider it a challenge…” A pain. A train wreck. A refining season. Maybe even an opportunity. But PURE JOY?

Sorry, James—half brother of Jesus. You might be related to the Son of God, but you seem to be missing a few screws. Oh, He told you to say that? Well then. Guess I will shut my mouth.   

So what does this culturally unpopular perspective mean for those of us who follow Jesus? In a nutshell, our contentment isn’t determined by stuff or circumstance, but by Him alone. The nonstop outpouring of Himself and His never-ending resources allows us to continually experience pure joy—the kind that’s literally out of this world.

Even when…

  • You’re changing a million diapers.
  • The doctor calls with news.
  • You’re overwhelmed and out of time.
  • Someone breaks your heart.
  • You’re mocked for your faith.
  • You’re stretched beyond your boundaries.
  • You’re given some difficult feedback.
  • You’re walking through a valley.
  • You’re stuck in the “in-between” time.
  • You’re praying and praying and praying and waiting.
  • You’re the target of gossip.
  • You’re misunderstood.
  • You lose someone you love.
  • You simply lack the strength.
  • You fight back tears.
  • You surrender it all.

 

Consider it pure joy.

Because a tested faith is a trusted faith; one that endures the not-so-good surprises.

 

signature