Paul interceded and made an impassioned request for the Christians at Colossae. He did not "cease asking that they would be filled the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (1:9-10 NRSV). The Colossians appear to have their hearts in the right place - that is, they had faith, hope, love and their good works were producing fruit within themselves and in the whole world. Hence why Paul extends such a deep thankfulness to them. Yet he asked for more on their behalf. Those things were good and noteworthy but I wonder, when we are filled with the knowledge of God in all spiritual wisdom and understanding it seems as though Paul's 'so that' expressed at the beginning of verse 10 indicates that this is when our lives become marked by a greater depth and maturity as we live life in the Spirit.
What came to mind as I read those words was the sense that being filled with the knowledge of God was equated with 'Going Deeper', a phrase I have heard and used often but given little explanation of. For the next few moments I wish to describe a scene that was helpful for me as I contemplated what it meant for God to take me deeper in the knowledge of Him.
You stand on the seashore at dawn. The rays of the sun are only just beginning to reach over the horizon as it makes its accent into another day. It climbs lazily from its bed on the far side of the earth to make its presence felt. The water is calm and still and the waves quietly undulate against the beach, pulsing along the sand much like the beat of your heart within your chest. You notice your breathing and change it to match the rhythm of the waves lapping at the shore.
Your toes curl into the still cool sand and you feel the grit of each grain as they catch between your toes. A warm breeze gently blows over your skin and silently urges you forward. Step by step you move down to the water. The sand squeaks beneath each footfall and the imprints left behind slowly fill with sand again, footprints hardly recognisable. Your toes are the first body part to touch the water, then your whole foot, the other foot, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, hands, stomach, chest, shoulders and then you stop. Soon you will no longer be able to stand.
Do you stay there in the shallows where it is safe, satisfied with the depth you have reached and perhaps allow the buoyancy of the water to suspend you in place? Or do you wade further still where depth ceases to be measured by the length of a body but rather in ways we can't explain - where exploring, investigating, discovering become the themes by which we navigate the territory below and beyond? Where words yet untested and metaphors yet to be explored become the markers for what is ahead and underneath?
Friends, this is what I believe it means to grow in the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding - to go deeper. Too many stand in the shallows of faith or venture back to dry ground when we fear the unknown of the depths before us. In the shallows we can be surrounded by many good things. Paul listed them in the first portion of these verses - hope, faith, the growing of fruit and love. Not that those things aren't important, they absolutely are and yet Paul urges us that we can seek more. That we would take the steps needed to ensure that we no longer stand on our own but we swim and dive deeper into the expanse of God's presence and fully immerse ourselves in it.
Going deeper may mean one or many leaps of faith, relinquishing control, saying sorry, a lifestyle change or a change in direction. Going deeper may mean learning to love ourselves or love others or learning to forgive. In order to go deeper we could fast - from food, behaviours or words or a combination of all of those. An investment into the time spent with God, memorising and speaking scripture aloud, meditation and prayer, finding a partner with whom we can share the faith journey. Growing deeper in the knowledge of God is to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and have everything else we need added unto us.
Go deeper with God, dive in and begin to explore, investigate and discover the immeasurable goodness that God wants to give. Going deeper in the knowledge of God means chartering the unfamiliar territory before us, submersing ourselves in the full expanse of Christ, feeling the weight of love and grace upon us and at the same time encountering a freedom to move through the depths with ease like never before.
Captain Jodie Pethybridge
Corps Officer Forster/Tuncurry
Australia Eastern Territory