When Love is an Ocean

Love is an Ocean - Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen for She Loves

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
– Oceans, by Hillsong

I sat on the wooden floor of the church meeting room, surrounded by the gentle chattering of my colleagues on the course and looked at the blank piece of paper in front of me. We were meant to be creating a symbol to represent this past year of formation in Spiritual Direction. Everyone else was busy drawing, writing, cutting and sticking. I wasn’t sure where to begin.

I flicked through the magazine in front of me and stopped on a picture of a beautiful seaside view, maybe somewhere in Italy or Greece. The water was a dazzling sparkling blue and drew me in.

I thought back to my appraisal session with my tutor. I’d started telling her I felt disappointed with my performance that year. I’m normally the one who does all the extra credit. I read all the books, I go above and beyond what is expected. It’s for the enjoyment of it, yes, but it’s also my way of controlling the outcome. This is how I make sure I don’t look silly or (God forbid) ignorant.

Instead, this year I have skated through on the bare minimum. Scratched words in my journal on the train on the way home to my sleeping family, a tiny handful of books read in small snatches during nap times in between hanging up the next load of laundry and making sure I’d remembered to pay the council tax bill. I’ve felt stretched thin this year, trying to keep up with this course with two young children and a house move on top of that.

I was disappointed, I told my tutor. And yet, as we reflected further together, all I could remember was the stream of illuminating experiences and learning and aha moments. I thought this would be like everything else – I get out only what I put in. God instead surprised me, again, with abundance. I came with a few loaves and fishes; God laid out a feast for me. I had just a cup of water, but God made it an ocean.

And so an ocean was what I created. I tore out all the images of water I could find and layered them over and over each other until my page was filled up with blue.

I cut out a seagull and stuck it down on a whim, and suddenly. I saw it–the Spirit hovering over these waters I’d gathered. It’s how the story of Genesis begins, the Spirit moving over the dark waters in a formless world–brooding, the Message puts it. Something is being formed beneath the waters. This is the moment of pausing before creation begins, before something new is birthed out of nothing.

I brought everything I had this year, and it didn’t feel like much. And yet, God multiplies and creates a surging waterfall where there were only drops, a torrent of small moments when I glimpsed the divine, when the veil over my eyes was pulled back and I understood a tiny bit more just how vast the mystery of God is.

And now the waters have stilled and the Spirit is hovering, brooding. Some days it feels like I have been waiting for far too long, searching and seeking and not ever quite finding what I was looking for. I still have two years left of this course, along with a house to renovate and two small children to keep vaguely healthy and happy. But I feel myself being reborn, day by, sometimes, excruciating day.

This birthing might take a lifetime, but there is an ocean of grace to sustain me and the Spirit again calls her invitation to be part of the process, to submit to the rolling of the waves and let the waters of birth make me new.

This post originally appeared on She Loves Magazine.

When have you experienced God’s abundance when you expected scarcity? How has it changed you?