Deeper: A Title That Takes You Exactly Where It Promises

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Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Arrested by Beauty

Our little rental car rounded the steep hilly bends of California’s coastal Highway 1. While my husband drove, we took in breezy warm ocean air through the car windows. When we curved through another bend, I remember how the view knocked us over. I shouted, “Stop the car!” Quickly, my husband hit the brakes and pulled over to get a better look.  As I stepped out of the car, my eyes took in a kind of beauty I had never seen before.

Rocky cliffs stood against a deep sapphire ocean, huge black boulders jutted out from within the water giving it a sort of turquoise hue, and a misty fog swirled like magic through families of tall, thin pine trees along the coast. As we gazed at the miles and miles of Pacific ocean that lay before us, all I could whisper was, “Wow.” I was arrested by beauty–completely undone by it.

“Stop the car!” became a sort of mantra for this trip. We kept heartily agreeing that we would not stop the car again, but mile after mile, it only seemed to get more glorious, and inevitably we’d hit the brakes and pull over. “We’re making terrible time,” my husband quipped, smiling, as we stood gazing out at the miles of ocean. “I know,” I said, “Isn’t it great?” 

Reading a book like, Deeper, by Dane C. Ortlund is much like driving the coast of the Pacific Northwest. You know it’s going to be beautiful, but until you read it, you aren’t prepared for just how beautiful it will be.

In this book, there are many, “Stop the car!” kind of moments. Not just from chapter to chapter, but paragraph to paragraph, I found myself hitting the brakes, pulling over, and stepping out to gaze at a beauty I didn’t know was even possible. I was arrested and undone by it.

And what is this beauty?

This beauty is none other than the wonder of Jesus Christ. He is the gazing spectacle of this book, the grand subject, the great reward, and as I set my gaze on him, I found him appearing only more glorious and beautiful, mile after mile, and chapter after chapter. I found myself pausing, weeping, wondering, pondering between pages. I found myself on my knees, in worship of the one whom our hearts were made to behold and adore–forever.

For just as the Union Publishing Preface to the Union Series states, “The living God is so glorious and kind, he cannot be known without being adored” (13).

Slow Down

Much like driving the coast of the Pacific Northwest, Deeper, is not a book to be read for speed, but for beauty. Ortlund encourages from the start not to “consume” this book, but to “reflect” your way through it. Read it slowly, prayerfully, and allow your heart to really behold the beauty of Christ. Expect to pull over often, gazing at the glory, letting it go way down deep to your heart.

Savor the Feast

This book is truly a feast. It’s not to be snatched up on the go, but rather, a table, spread for you in love with candles lit. A seat with your name on it, to dine, to savor, to enjoy.

Ortlund not only spreads a feast of God’s word, but he also calls on voices of the past such as Augustine, Luther, Bunyan, Edwards, Spurgeon, and Lewis to bring in well-weathered wisdom, perspective and an awe of God that is often lost in modern writers.

While he lays out many scriptures and beautiful theological truths in this book–he takes them one step further: he ministers the Scriptures to the heart. He is pastoral or shepherding in this way, not simply explaining what theological truths mean, but what they mean for the reader’s own heart. As he shares God’s word, he not only shares its light, but its warmth.

In reading this book, I was drawn to the feasting table, but it was the one who sat across from me that made me not want to get up. It was the gaze of Jesus that kept me there. As warm candlesticks flickered and glowed, I realized he is a person who wants my attention. A person who wants all of my heart. A person who bids me to, “Come.”


In Revelations 3:20, Jesus gives this invitation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

More Than I Thought He Was 

Ortlund writes that there is a temptation to “assume” we know what Jesus is like. Even with excellent “doctrinal precision,” there is a tendency to “downsize the glory of Christ in our hearts” (21). However, he asks, “Have we unintentionally reduced [Jesus] to manageable predictable proportions? Have we been looking at a junior varsity, decaffeinated, one-dimensional Jesus of our own making, thinking we’re looking at the real Jesus? Have we snorkeled in the shallows, thinking we’ve now hit the bottom of the Pacific?”

He beckons us to swim deeper, for there is far more of Jesus than we ever thought there was. It is a glorious invitation that no matter how much we know about Jesus, no matter how much we’ve read, or even how much we’ve taught and written–there is always more of him to be discovered.

Desperate for Deliverance

One of the most precious truths Ortlund helped me see was my utter desperation for Jesus to save me. He explains that we do not just need a little “help,” we need saving–complete rescue.

He illustrates it like this, “We were not drowning, in need of being thrown a life-preserver; we were stone-dead at the bottom of the ocean. He pulled us up, breathed new life into us, and set us on our feet–and every breath we now draw is owing to his full and utter deliverance of us in all our helplessness and death. Jesus saves” (27).

Even now tears fill my eyes to think about what actually happened when the Prince of Heaven went to the cross on my behalf. I contributed nothing but my own sinfulness, He did everything. What a beautiful truth to ponder that Jesus does not merely “help” us, he saves to the uttermost.

Collapse Into His Arms

Something that really shines in this book is the way Ortlund captures the invitation of Jesus to the wounded and weary. Few books speak with such honesty about the feelings of despair we tend to feel from our own sinfulness, weakness, or pain.

Ortlund explains that “despair,” though not an end in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. As we are finally honest about who we are, despair can actually help drive us to the Savior. He assures us that we don’t simply need a little “boost from heaven,” what we need is to collapse. We need to throw ourselves upon Jesus, who does not shrink away from us in our failure, but is even more drawn to us in our desperation for him.

He writes, “As you despair of yourself–agonizing over the desolation wrought by your failures, your weaknesses, your inadequacies–let despair take you way down deep into honesty with yourself. For there you will find a friend, the living Lord Jesus himself, who will startle and surprise you with his gentle goodness as you leave Self behind, in repentance, and bank on him afresh, in faith” (49),

I am so thankful for a Savior who invites us to simply collapse upon him.

Union With Christ

A word that once meant nothing to me, now brings tears to my eyes. I had never before grappled with the idea of union with Christ, or what it really meant to be in him. Ortlund explains, “You cannot crowbar yourself into growth. You must be lifted into growth. But the divine grace that brings about change is a divine grace that fuels and fills our own efforts. For we are in the Son” (55).

Ortlund illustrates our union with Christ as, “standing in a circle with an invisible but impenetrable wall surrounding you, a sphere of impregnability. But it’s not a circle you’re in. It’s a person–the person. The one before whom John fell down as he grappled for words to describe what he was looking at as one whose “eyes were like a flame of fire…and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (Rev. 1:14-15) has been made one with you. The might of heaven, the power that flung galaxies into existence, has swept you into himself” (66).

And because you are in Christ, …Nothing can touch you that does not touch him. To get to you, every pain, every assault, every disappointment has to go through him. You are shielded by invincible love. Everything that washes into your life, no matter how hard, comes from and through the tender care of the friend of sinners. He himself feels your anguish even more deeply than you do, because you’re one with him; and he mediates everything hard in your life through his love for you, because you’re one with him” (66).

This is what it means to be in Christ.

Therefore, “As far as sin in your life reaches, Christ and your union with him reach further. As deep as your failure goes, Christ and your union with him go deeper still. As strong as your sin feels, the bond of your oneness with Jesus Christ is stronger still. Live the rest of your life mindful of your union with the prince of heaven” (66-67).

An Invitation to Come

“Deeper,” is far more than a book. It is an invitation for all who find themselves weak, weary, and desperate for a Savior. It’s an invitation from Jesus to, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

Waiting within its pages–is a person.

A person whose eyes drip with tears over your deepest pain. A person who invites you to collapse on him in your weakness and failure. A person who sees the selfishness and sin of your heart, and yet bids you with arms wide open, Come.”

A person whose union with you is more firm than the mountains, and who alone whispers the words that can never pass away, “You in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)

This person is the living Lord Jesus.

Go Deeper

I am so thankful that Union has released Deeper into the world, especially now. In our culture that craves outward appearances, and is constantly telling us to do more, try harder, get louder, and be seen, we find a simple and needed invitation to go deeper with our Savior. The one we were made to adore and delight in–forever.

My prayer is that as you read this book, you will find him, finding you. Chasing you. Fiercely and tenderly, all at once. Scooping you up into his arms like a tender shepherd, holding you close to his heart.

And mile after mile, you’ll keep stopping to take in his glory. Warm and happy tears will fill your eyes. You won’t go fast. You’ll go slow. But as you take him in at every turn, your eyes will behold him. Your heart will adore him.

You will weep and worship. And as you relish your union with him—you will be changed. For you are in the Son.

You will climb and not be able to reach his heights, you will dive and not be able to reach his depths. And just when you think you have traversed to the ends of him, you will see some yet unknown land in the distance, and he will bid you come, “Deeper.”



Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund is part of the Union Series published with Crossway.

Picture of Rebekah Fox

Rebekah Fox

Rebekah authors the blog Barren to Beautiful, where she offers gospel hope to women during infertility and other dry seasons of the soul. She and her husband live in Pennsylvania and have been blessed with three children. She blogs at
Picture of Rebekah Fox

Rebekah Fox

Rebekah authors the blog Barren to Beautiful, where she offers gospel hope to women during infertility and other dry seasons of the soul. She and her husband live in Pennsylvania and have been blessed with three children. She blogs at