In a Door-of-No-Return moment, the Lord of the Rings character Samwise Gamgee halts in the middle of a field. “If I take one more step,” he announces hesitantly, “it’ll be the farthest from home I’ve ever been.” But at his companion Frodo’s encouragement, he takes that next step. And basically launches into the deep.
He walks through the door, jumps off the cliff, decides to chance the unknown.
I’m a little (a lot?) like Sam. Not really a great risk-taker. You might think so, as I hang by a thread in an unpredictable country. Graffiti, gravel pits. Riots, rumbling revolt. Shoestring budgets, everyday earthquakes.
“Choices will always be at your crossroads. Forcing you to embrace either the right or the wrong, the easy or the hard, the light or the dark. It is up to you to decide which one.” –Unknown
But the premise of this post has presented one of my greatest challenges. Maybe it’s because I just plain don’t want to do hard things anymore. I don’t even want to make pies for the deep-freeze, let alone jump into the deep end of anything. I have no desire to pack up the house again, prepare for another quarantine, or attend yet another Zoom meeting…as long as I live, amen! Never mind sailing from the safe harbor. Forget going deep, aiming high, or journeying too far.
How often we prefer to stay in the shallows with all the other little boats. When Jesus told Peter to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets” (Lk. 5:4), He intended the event to change his life. Of course, Peter was an experienced fisherman. But this miraculous catch went beyond anything he’d ever imagined before.
The tiny step of faith would lead Peter into a mind-blowing second career. Kind of like launching a book.
Deep Waters, Deep Mire
Definitely it’s a Door of No Return. On the other hand, if you do only what you’ve always done, what’s familiar and comfortable, then how will you see what you’ve never seen before?
The experience of launching out with Jesus never meant continuous smooth sailing. In fact, probably anything but. Witness the storm in Luke 8:22-25. But think what the disciples would’ve missed if they’d remained in the harbor.
We can always find a logical reason to put things off, wait for a better time, and sink into the deep pit of stalling out and staying where we are, literally and figuratively. “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap”—or launch (Eccl. 11:4).
“A ship in port is safe. But that’s not what ships are built for.” –max-groups.com
Troubled times—and our own fears and insecurities—intimidate and overwhelm us, for sure. When we hit the hurricanes of life, it’s easy to say like the psalmist David: “I have sunk in deep mire… I have come into deep water, and a flood overflows me” (Ps. 69:2).
Launch into the deep? No, thank you. Can’t today.
Droplet Gift #30: I will leave the safe port, launch into the deep, and watch what happens.
Even though I don’t feel up to it. Because I’ll never know until I dare.
Sometimes we’re tempted not to answer the call of the deep. What if I’m suffering delusions of grandeur? What if a siren is luring me to my doom? Worse yet, what if I take a risk and my net comes up empty?
After all, I’m an ordinary girl not suited to the thriller plots. In his comments on Michel de Montaigne’s Essays, James Mustich (1000 Books to Read Before You Die) expresses my thoughts: “…None of our lives live up to the…story arc… Where there is supposed to be thematic development, we get a helter-skelter hurrying from no place in particular to no place special; where there is supposed to be consistency of conduct and identity, we get a strange alteration of fickleness and obstinacy… there is supposed to be a grand finale, (yet) we get a denouement without a climax…”
In other words, my simple life doesn’t make a riveting story.
Or does it? If I dare to move off the sidelines of God’s agenda, away from the security of the shore… then the mundane entries of my life might add up to a marvelous Captain’s log.
“God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” –Unknown
But like all story characters, if I never step through the Door of No Return into the conflict of the story… well, there is no story.
Deep Seas, Deep Space
No test, no trophy. No game, no prize. Without the battle, there’s no victory. Without braving the journey, you gather no amazing memories.
For all epic explorers—of seas and skies, past and future—an element of risk exists in leaping into the deep “where no one has gone before.” Even the quiet creative types among us require courage to lance their art into a sometimes critical and unappreciative world. The deepest emotions—love, joy, sorrow—are themselves oh-so-daring and dangerous.
But every risk carries its own inherent reward. As C. S. Lewis grieved the death of his wife, Joy, he realized that he’d feared the risk of love as a youth. In maturity he saw it as a worthwhile launch into the deep. He wrote, “The boy chooses safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then.”
Isn’t that the truth? You can’t write much of a story without something important at stake.
In Destiny at Dolphin Bay, Nicolás Serrano chooses Jesus, even though his decision puts him at odds with his family, friends, and culture. Even though she doesn’t really want to, Melissa Travis chooses to stay in Chile, which is diving into the deep end for her. The girl who feels like the unused cup in the cupboard chances the bumps and bruises of getting off the shelf.
In the second book of the series, Pursuit of the Pudú Deer, both risk a relationship born premature and fragile with the double strokes of limited time and place against it. Then when strike three hits, what do they do? Call it quits? Or jump, not wade, into the deep against all odds?
“Cast your bread on…the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1). That’s biblical advice they gamble on—in faith.
Deep Words, Deep Thoughts
“When we allow God the privilege of shaping our lives, we discover new depths of purpose and meaning. What a joyful thought to realize you are a chosen vessel for God—perfectly suited for His use.” –Joni Eareckson Tada
In the deep silence as I listen to God, I know He’s calling me to go deeper with Him. To dig down deeper into His Word, to lean deeper into His love and presence, to reach deeper into the world with His touch on lives.
But as in every relationship and every worthwhile endeavor, it’s hard discipline. If prayer and devotion and growth weren’t a struggle, wouldn’t everybody hop onboard?
Inspiration hits us, certainly: “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water…” (Pr. 20:5). And as a writer, I’d be the last person to disparage the power of words, for “the words of a man’s mouth are deep waters” (Pr. 18:4). But talk, like water in the lucky places of the globe, is abundant and cheap.
Launching into the deep may begin with a passion to change the world, but continuing the voyage through the tough tasks and scary seas demands the deep roots of commitment and the deep magic of transformational joy.
“Small beginnings are the launching pads to great endings.” –Joyce Meyer
Have you ever sensed a call into the deep? A nudge to launch out, to hazard a holy risk, to meet the adventure head-on? It may never turn out how you think, but on the way, like Nicolás and Melissa, you could discover “the deep and secret things” (Dan. 2:22).
So it’s not Pacific-deep. It might be little Galilee or the Bay of Fundy for you. I stepped through my Door of No Return into Big Indian Pond.
Lord, don’t take me home until… I’m sailing into the deep, swinging not on a shoestring but a star.