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How to Stay Afloat When Your Feet Can't Touch the Bottom

Jennifer Heeren

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Updated Aug 13, 2018
How to Stay Afloat When Your Feet Can't Touch the Bottom
You're in water that is too deep to walk across. You have to swim. And you must trust God to get you through when your feet can't touch the bottom.

Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through. (Ezekiel 47:3-5)

When I was very young, I went to a backyard pool party. Even though I couldn’t swim yet, I had fun splashing around in the cool water. It was up to my waist and I could laugh and play with my friends. I kept walking until the water was up to my chest. Then, I went a little further and it was up to my shoulders. But it still felt refreshing to be submerged in that icy water on a hot summer day. But then, another couple of steps further and my feet lost their footing and I was pulled under by the force of the water. I was drowning! An adult jumped in and pulled me out and as I sat on the grass panting, I thought, I’ll never do that again!

It can be the same in my walk with God. It’s okay in the beginning, up-to-my-ankles, testing and kicking at the water as I get my bearings. Soon the water is up to my knees but I can still easily reach down and splash around. It’s fun and very refreshing and even seems easy. I’m growing. I’m happily learning about the ways of God.

Before I realize it, I’m up-to-my-waist in the living water of God. My learning has gone deeper. I’m grasping bigger concepts but I am also realizing that I can never know everything. Certain things will always elude my finite mind. I’m learning more but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to live out that knowledge. When I do, I stand in stark contrast to a lot of the people all around me. It doesn’t seem natural to forgive someone that hasn’t asked for my forgiveness but God wants me to forgive anyway. Caring for someone that has never treated me kindly seems strange but God urges me to love even my enemy.

Suddenly, I find myself in water that is too deep to walk across. I have to swim. Therefore, I have to trust God to get me through when I can’t touch the ground. This is the deeper living that God wants me to get to. Where the ways of the Bible become practically second nature. It’s only God’s help that can enable me to do this--to continue onward in the deeper, scarier water. I can’t do it by my feeble strength alone. I lean on Him and His ways more and more. I am surrendering more and fighting Him less.

However, it’s not always a steady, smooth progression. I may go back and forth between the waist-high water and the deeper water and this is okay. God doesn’t expect perfection. He simply wants me to keep learning, growing, and surrendering more and more. He expects continual improvement.

But how do I get there? 

1. Remember who God is, as well as His love, grace, patience, and kindness. While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. He purchased my freedom with His blood and forgave my sins. He continues to show me much kindness and grace even when I’m still messing up so that I can get back up again.

2. Remember that Christ’s life flows within me. Christ’s life and the Holy Spirit’s constant encouragement pumps through me. That “energy” is inside me, not somewhere out there, so that I can live for God and show His grace and kindness to people all around me. God continually sculpts me so that I can do good works and shine to others.

3. Remember that Christ’s love is deeper than I think. The more I understand just how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love of God goes, the more peace I will feel, and when I feel all of that love and peace, I can surrender to His will and ways more and more. 

4. Remember to lead a life that is worthy of this calling. With this love, kindness, power, and grace flowing within me, it is much easier to live out the Christian life and swim in the deep water where I can’t touch the ground or my own understanding. I am better prepared to live a life of humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness, as well as making the most of my God-given talents to build up God’s church.

I learn the basics of a godly life in the shallow water but when I swim free in the deeper water, I’m showing my full reliance on my God. In the shallow water, I don’t need God as much because I’ve still got a sure footing. But in the deep, I need Him more so I therefore receive even more of His love and guidance. When I need more, I get more.

Dear Lord, strengthen my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and let that faith lead me to love other people just as Christ loved me. May I be always prayerful, always asking God to give me spiritual insight so that I can grow in my knowledge of Him and His love. Let me be filled with hope and point to the rich and glorious inheritance that God bestows on me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)


Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.

Publication date: July 26, 2016