You were not meant to stay on the shore. I am calling you out into the deep waters.
Those words dropped into her heart as she continued her beach walk.
As a child she had enjoyed swimming in the ocean. But over time she learned that while those waters were God’s treasure, they also carried threats—and she resolved to stay on the shore. Riptides, creatures, and other dangers created a normal caution that turned into fear that held her back from God’s blessing. Yet her childhood memories of a carefree heart that found joy splashing in the surf often called her to come back to the sea. She missed the wonder of wrapping herself in those salty, soothing waters of God’s whirlpool.
Sometimes our carefree hearts turn into overly careful hearts, producing fear that holds us back from living in the fullness God intended. But when we understand that our Good Shepherd is watching over us, our broken hearts can turn into brave hearts. As we transfer our trust to Jesus—one day at a time, one step at a time—he will show us the way back home.
We were created to love and to be loved. Psychologists say the human need for love is as vital as the need for food or water. But much as the ocean is a treasure that also carries threats, when we step out into the deep ocean of love, our hearts become vulnerable to pain. Indeed, all of us experience this great paradox at times in our lives. To love is often to suffer.
As a natural part of life, we all experience love and pain intertwining. A son leaves for college or marries, and we must let a piece of our heart go. A mom who nurtured us for a lifetime now struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. A loved one dies unexpectedly. Our in-laws do not accept us. We go through divorce. Infidelity interrupts our marriage. We must leave a job, a church, a town, a neighborhood—and this means we also leave people who had been a large part of our lives. We come to faith in Christ, and our family or friends forsake us. Breast cancer robs us of our best friend. A father never had the capacity to love us. The cost of the treasure of love? It opens our hearts to pain.
When we came to know the Lord, our capacity to love increased as we were now connected to the source of Perfect Love. God’s agape love can now flow into us and through us to others. This great love is unlike anything we had experienced or given before our life with Jesus. But while we have this capacity to love unconditionally, the threat of the pain we may experience could pull us back from living, from giving this love to ourselves and others. And sometimes we resolve to settle on the shore of a safe heart.
When these resolutions become inner vows that we live by, we have chosen them instead of our Lord to lead us. We have placed ourselves instead of Christ in the driver’s seat. This ultimately shuts our hearts down, stopping the love and liberty that could flow from pursuing Christ.
But God has another way.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers.
– 1 Peter 3:12 NLT
The Lord is watching over you, treasured one.
But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.
– 1 Peter 3:14–15 NLT
So trade your worry for worship and make Christ, instead of the inner vows you have created, the Lord of your life.
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
– 1 Peter 3:18 NLT
Let the cross, where love and pain so beautifully intertwined FOR YOU, prove Christ’s great love for you and propel you to trust our Good Shepherd’s voice instead of your inner vows so you can love well. He has your back when your heart breaks. He can guard your heart and give you wisdom in setting loving boundaries. Jesus gives, guards, and guides his sheep.
Set your heart free by seeking Jesus!
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT
Instead of shutting down your heart, seek your Good Shepherd and let him lead you back home to the pasture of abundant life.
“My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.”
– John 10:10–11 NLT
A rich and satisfying life is found not on the shore of a safe heart but in the center of God’s will. Because the Lord is watching over you, you can trade your worry for worship and make Christ the Lord of your life. Pursue Jesus and let him turn your broken heart into a brave heart that finds freedom to love again.