Emily Pellarin


All summer, my prayer was wrapped around the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United.

The beautifully simple lyrics entranced me. I wanted to have the faith to keep my eyes above the waves wherever God would call me, to keep my eyes above the waves of life, to stand firm in oceans deep. It all sounded so beautiful and clear and simple: keep my eyes fixed on Christ in the midst of everything, the good and bad.

And so I would pray the song over and over again, telling Jesus to put me in the ocean of His grace, to lead me into deep waters. I had no idea what I was asking for.

I grew up in the midwest, thousands of miles away from any coast, gulf, or peninsula. I can count on one hand the amount of times I have been to the ocean. And even then, when I would go to the ocean, it seemed picture perfect. The sands were white, the water was clear and calm, and there was usually a sun setting in the sky.

Now that I live in Houston, the ocean is much closer, and my mission team made a day trip to the ocean last month. I expected another tranquil day in the water. That’s not what I got.

From the first moment I walked into the ocean, I could feel resistance from the tide. The waves were overpowering and big, and they just kept on rolling in. Waist deep in saltwater, I was having trouble staying on my feet when a wave would push past me. By the time the water was at my shoulders, my head had actually been pushed down underwater, and it took all I had to not be pushed towards shore. I couldn’t even keep my eyes above the waves.

Then the lyrics from “Oceans” came into my head. I had been praying for this all summer. I had asked Christ to lead me to the depths of the ocean, through the waves, and I had promised to keep my eyes above them and continue walking towards Him. All the sudden, I was faced with the reality of the struggle of what I had prayed for.

Yes, I had felt the power of the waves; yes, I had felt my feet falter in the ocean, and I didn’t keep my eyes above the waves. Even more, though, I had been reminded of the risk of following Christ. 

To follow Jesus with my whole life means going to the great unknown, walking into an ocean that is bigger than me. Following Christ means that I cannot expect an easy way or peaceful waters. I will struggle to stay grounded, to keep my eyes on Christ in the midst of the unknown and the trials that knock me off my feet.

But like the song says, God’s grace abounds in deepest waters. He has never failed, and He won’t start now. In the face of the waves and the water, our faith will be made stronger in the presence of God, who is our Savior.

I invite you to pray with this song today and to ask the Lord for the grace to stay committed to Him through whatever you feel like you may be drowning in today.

Emily Pellarin

About the Author

I have a nose ring, green beans are my favorite vegetable, and I wear mismatched socks for fun. Sneaking into to old churches is a hobby of mine. After serving all over the country, God let me come back to be a missionary in my hometown of St. Louis. I have the privilege of living in Ferguson and loving the teens there is my job. I couldn't love it more. I would love to pray for any intentions you may have. Just email me at [email protected] or tweet at me @LT_EmPell. P.S. God loves you. A lot.