Sunday, September 24, 2017

Look up

When I was a young child, my brother, a couple cousins and myself, were on a pontoon with an uncle of ours. Our uncle wanted to teach us all how to swim that day, and he did, kind of. We each had different levels of swimming skills under our belts and the suggestion of throwing me into the water terrified me because, I fully believed I was going to drown. My brother was the first to get tossed in, then an older cousin was next and both were doing fine. But, that didn't lessen my fears, I was next and I was petrified, crying and begging not to be thrown in. My uncle grabbed me and tossed me a few feet from the boat. I hit the water and started really panicking and choking on the water I had swallowed while screaming for my life. But, my brother swam close to me and with a voice of confidence, he said, "Niki, just paddle to the boat and you will be fine, I'll swim next to you." And wouldn't you know it, instantly I could swim and I paddled over to the side of the boat and climbed back in. My faith in myself tripled knowing I had him next to me if he was needed. 

  The season I have been in has me at times feeling like I have been thrown overboard into a giant sea of strong waves and I have forgotten how to swim again. 

  The Lord recently reminded me of when I was that young child and how I had the skills to swim back to the boat that day, but until my brother swam next to me, my faith was very weak. Sometimes our faith isn't just about trusting God but about trusting what God can do through you. 

  Jesus asked me to step out of the boat recently too and it petrified me the same as when I was that little girl, maybe even more, because now I have so much more riding on my ability to be able to swim. Jesus didn't just toss me in like my uncle had, but he did asked me to do something that I felt was above my ability. I can't walk on water, I can't swim through giant waves crashing against me. I would surly be eaten alive by the ocean waves. But, Jesus asked me to step out of the boat, so reluctantly I did and instantly sank as I started to panic. But this time I didn't hear a voice telling me to paddle back to the boat as he swam next to me. This time, I heard nothing. Jesus had asked me to step out of the boat into an angry sea and then he abandoned me, I thought? As I struggled to keep my head above each crashing wave I was yelling out for help and was met with only the roar of the angry ocean. I couldn't see Jesus or hear him any longer. I felt alone and suddenly my fear left and a deep anguish took over as I took my last inhaled breath and started to sink deep. Suddenly, I wasn't panicked, I had just given up.  I was tired and I saw no way out. 

 There is a freedom in giving up, I guess but, also a deep sadness when you realize what you have just done. As I was sinking to the bottom and watching the sun's light fade out of sight, I wondered was this really it, was I going to drown and Jesus was just going to watch it happen? Just then, I felt him, he was beside me, holding his breath too. Confused, I thought, why was he holding his breath? After all, he can part the sea. He pointed to the ocean's surface and in that moment, I wanted to breath again and I wanted to reach the surface more than anything I had ever wanted before. I moved my very tired arms and with that first stroke towards the surface, I saw Jesus reaching in to pull me out. I grabbed his arm and when I reached the surface, I gasped for air like a new born baby breathing for the first time. It wasn't over but, I wasn't alone and I knew this at that moment. 

More often than not, Jesus doesn't just rescue us, he sinks with us, he holds his breath beside us and he waits for us to reach out our hands for him to pull us back in the boat. It's a painful, soul stretching experience to be sinking and believe you are alone, but God will never ask one of his children to step out of the boat and leave us there to drown. He will however, let us sink and feel the pressure of the deep ocean pushing against us. He knows what pressure and despair can build in us. Remember, when a pearl is being made it causes the oyster great discomfort but the end result is something pretty spectacular. So the next time you are drowning remember to keep holding your breath and look up.