Devotion: Just the Tip of the Iceberg

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27

You’ve heard the statistic–10% of an iceberg is above the surface, but the real strength of the iceberg lies beneath the surface. This is also true for us.

Most of us live in the shallowness of our surface lives, without ever exploring the depth of who we are–let alone inviting others below the surface.

Like an iceberg–we live with a public persona, while trying to keep our private lives private. So we swim at this shallow level without seeing there is even a third, much deeper level in our subconscious.

  • Public–Appear
  • Private–Aware
  • Subconscious–Undiscovered Longings

We spend most of our lives trying to manage and maintain our external public appearance, aware that our inward life is often the sheer opposite. We buy clothes that accentuate our features, we brighten our smile, we polish up our resume. On the surface we want to appear confident, capable, competent, desirable and accomplished.

Just beneath the surface, however, lurks our private world of chaos, insecurity, competing values, short tempers, lustful glances, addictive desires, compulsive thoughts and jealous envy. Afraid that if someone truly knew us they would run in disgust, so we tred water trying desperately to keep these inner desires hidden.

Staying on the surface is easier because it is focused on behavioral techniques. Working on time management techiniques, or joining a bible study, or attending worship or some other action step helps us feel like we are making progress, but often we use those techniques as a strategy to hide or minimize the deeper longings. To truly dive into the subconscious we have to ask ourselves, “Why?” to locate the longing deep within us that is unfulfilled, and therefore rears its head.

A few summers ago, my son and I went canoeing in Alaska. While on the lake, the guide warned us not to get too close to the iceberg because icebergs are notoriously unstable and in a moment can completely flip upside down.

The same is true for our lives. While we spend so much time trying to manage the surface level issues without ever getting to the root cause, suddenly and unexpectedly we can find our lives flipped upside down.

Suddenly, a light left on in the bathroom can elicit an evening-long angry argument between a couple. A wife’s passing comment to “take a left at the light” seems disrespectful to her husband and attacks his precariously held desire to appear competent. An honest mistake feels like a pervasive and permanent failure, which unearths issues of regret and shame.

Like an iceberg, deep below the surface lurks these deeper longings that want to be known and affirmed. These are the things Jesus came to expose. Like a light coming into the darkness, Jesus wants to point us beneath the surface to see the deep longings within our hearts. We all want to be known, respected, loved, protected and feel purposeful. We want that because that is how God designed us.

In scripture, we notice over and over again that Jesus is attractive to the broken and hurting. The people whose lives have flipped upside down–the blind, the lame, the prostitute, the broken–are eager to surrender their lives to him. However, it is the polished Pharisees, the rule-following moralists, the wealthy, the accomplished, the ones who appear put together that struggle to accept God’s grace. Why? Because it requires them to admit that as hard as they have worked, as good as they want to seem, deep below the surface they are just as broken and needy as the others. They live in this divided state.

We desire wholeness. Where our subconcious, private and public lives all function as one. Where we are fully accepted for how we look, how we feel and what we desire. This is what it means to live a life of integrity. Integrity means wholeness/oneness. And it is Jesus alone that fulfills that desire, because he has seen the depths of hell, he has gone into the darkness of your deepest longings, dirtiest secrets, and shamefilled regrets, he has looked at them and said, “You are still lovable.”

What area of your life is Jesus shining a bright light on in order to convict you that there is something lurking deep below the surface? How can you get below the surface before life flips you upside down?

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