Icebergs & Intimacy

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Contemplative or compulsive?

"Beware of the tension of growing in success but diminishing in soul." - Dave Hearn

Someone once said, “You can either live your life contemplative on the inside or compulsive on the outside.” Unfortunately, I lean more towards the compulsive outside than the contemplative inside. I am an activist and I am drawn to places where the action is. The downside of an activist is that it can actually foster spiritual emptiness. In the past few months I have been pushing very hard. Everything I am engaged in is exciting for me, but I have begun to notice a more compulsive outside showing up in some of my attitudes and reactions. I have become a little less patient and anger can emerge quickly.

Recently, I received an analogy from a friend that startled me with conviction. He wrote, “You are an iceberg. An iceberg is only 10% exposed with 90% of it under water. Ten percent of your energy (for now) is to be spent for the public to experience, hear, and respond to. Ninety percent of you is for the hidden place with God where you are to wrestle with Him and to cry out for the vision He has given you.”

My first reaction was, is this actually possible? My current calling, by its very nature, is highly public and visible. As I paused to reflect upon it, I felt like God was actually offering a corrective to my current pace. Could it be that I was actually 90% focused on my public ministry and only 10% on intimacy with Jesus? I could sense the Spirit of God nudging me to begin a transition into a more balanced approach to my calling.

In my journal I wrote, “Beware of the tension of growing in success but diminishing in soul. To have increased activity without increased intimacy will lead to self-deception. You can begin to believe that ministry effectiveness is equal to spiritual vitality. From a distance, a dry well looks inviting but when you draw deeply no lasting nourishment is found.”

A few days ago I resurrected a discipline that I had neglected. I booked a whole day of prayer at a local monastery close to my home. I spent an entire day in listening prayer. It was like drinking from a fountain, I wrote in my journal until my hand cramped up. God had so much to say and He seemed to have been waiting for me to slow down long enough to hear Him. The Psalmist wrote, “For God alone my soul waits in silence and quietly submits to Him, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; my fortress and my defence, I will not be shaken or discouraged.” (Psalm 62:5-6)

During my time of prayer, I walked into the chapel that was part of the monastery. It was a Catholic order and so I fully expected to see a crucifix above the altar. But to my surprise, at the front of the sanctuary was a depiction of Jesus rising out of the tomb. He is alive! My heart immediately leapt within me. It was a picture of hope, freedom, life, and unlimited possibilities. It was also an invitation. The One who has risen from the dead sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for me. (Romans 8:34) He longs for me to linger in His presence, to hear His heart and align my soul with His will. I am not an iceberg yet but I am moving in the right direction. Intimacy is in the deep. Dive in!


Dave Hearn is the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada. He has held C&MA leadership positions at local church and District levels. He served as District Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific District from 2005 to July 2012. He loves spending time with his family, and he’s passionate about living on mission fearlessly.

David Hearn