It was a rite of passage in my childhood community to enter the deep end of the local swimming pool. Once past the string of pill-shaped floats that marked the border of the shallows, the water was bluer and colder. Going deep can be enriching and exciting—skills drastically improve, confidence soars, and explorer instincts come alive.
If you’ve been splashing around in the shallow end of discipleship with students, consider facing the new year and the challenges ahead with a deeper dive. Your students may be hovering near the buoy line, ready to enter the deep end of their relationships with God and follow Jesus into the open water.
Deepening discipleship is not a new concept. God calls us to renew our hearts and let the unconditional love of our creator frame all that we are and do. Jesus leads his followers to tackle complicated social matters. Jacob wrestles with God. Mary and Martha put priorities in order when Jesus visits.
How do you know you are diving deep in discipleship? You’ll recognize these five blessings of going deep:
The heart is central
Have you heard of the diving reflex? When humans dive into water, our body systems adapt: the heartrate and metabolism slow and blood is redirected to only the vital organs. In the deep end, we may do less and spend more time developing who we want to be. The meaningless activities lose importance. Instead, we change our hearts and explore how we can love others like God loves us.
When you are making revelations in the deep end, it may seem like you are seeing the world through different eyes—God goggles. With this fresh perspective, old priorities start to shift and new goals come into focus.
Enjoy more open spaces
You may notice fewer swimmers in the deep end—some students might not be ready yet. Don’t let that hold you back from pushing past the shallows with those that are. The open spaces allow for some students to really stretch and grow.
Keep on swimming
When the water is over our heads, we must keep swimming. We can face our fear of the unknown. In the deep end, we can stick together in schools to explore farther.
With access to the deep end of the community pool came opportunities to take fun to the next level—the corkscrew slide and the high diving board. Deeper faith leads us to deeper experiences and development with ourselves, each other, and our God.
Meeting God renews us. Knowing and being loved by God changes us. Following God challenges us. Meet these challenges in the new year with a deep dive into discipleship.