When I was about seven years old, I almost died.
My brother and I had gone to California one summer to spend some time with our cousins and do all the fun things like camping, catching lizards, going to Sea World, and of course, the beach! I loved the ocean and to swim, so naturally putting the two together by swimming in the ocean was a dream come true for this landlocked gal. I was super excited and ready to tackle the waves with my boogie board, even though I hadn’t actually done it before. My older brother and two cousins jumped in and I quickly followed.
What happened next may never leave my memory…
I had been getting more and more comfortable with the waves and started venturing out farther and farther. I hadn’t passed my brother and could see my uncle on the shore, so I felt perfectly safe. To this day I don’t know if I wasn’t paying attention or if I just fell off my board, but the next thing I knew, I was underwater with the roaring waves crashing over me. Every time I tried to come up for air, another wave crashed down. I began to panic as I looked around underwater and realized I didn’t even know which way was up. The waves just kept tossing me and all I could see was bubbles and murky water. I never had the ability to hold my breath very long and I was quickly running out of air. I didn’t know what to do and I felt hopeless and alone.
The hardest part to swallow about my experience was:
it wasn’t true. Now, don’t get me wrong, I truly thought my life was over at the time. The reality was that I was probably only under two feet of water. It all lasted no more than fifteen seconds. Still, I thought I had taken my last breath.
At the time, my seven-year-old mind didn’t think about the fact that other people were caring for me and would not have let me drown. Nor did it cross my mind that if I just relaxed and stopped fighting the waves, I might have surfaced more quickly. I didn’t realize those truths because, frankly, I didn’t know any better. Having children of my own, I can now comprehend fully how ridiculous their minds are at times. It’s not their fault, it’s simply that they have a narrow scope of life experience, knowledge, and truth which leads them to overreact at times. They don’t always truly understand when they are alone or helpless…But then again…do we?
Waves of trials and struggles
I can’t say that I’ve physically been tossed and overtaken by waves since that day, but I can say that I have felt that way emotionally and spiritually at times. There have been seasons in my life where it seems like I can’t catch a break or that I am completely disoriented as to how to get out of the tides of confusion and overwhelming waves of trials and struggles. I have felt lost in the depths of my soul, not understanding the “why” or how to get my head above water. I have been in the place where I am so focused on trying to survive that I didn’t realize that what was drowning me was my own fear and control.
The only good that seems to comes from being in the darkness of the deep is you see the light more easily. When you have hit what seems to be your version of the bottom, you finally know which direction is up. Something so sweet and amazing happens at that point when you realize that you cannot do it in your own strength, you relinquish control, accept that you need help, and turn your eyes upward to Him.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.”
–Psalm 107:29 (NIV)
the Lord on high is mightier than the noise and force of the crashing waves. He is sitting on the beach watching your every move. He is waiting for you to call upon Him, to seek His strength, His truth, and His help. Once you turn your gaze from your own circumstances around you, focus on Him and fully trust that He is in control, those roaring whitecaps become small waves hitting your ankles. They may not disappear, but you become so focused on Him and His desires that you no longer fear the waves themselves, you fear enduring those waves without Him.
maybe you feel alone or that you are being tossed to and fro in this season of life. I cannot tell you whether those are tidal waves or simple breaks in the water no more than I can tell you how long you will endure them. What I can tell you is that there is hope in the One who is greater than any storm. He sees you in the deepest of deep. God is a God of promises and He is faithful to His word.
“When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.”
– Isaiah 43:2
Choose to stop fighting the waves. Instead, rest in His embrace.
Choose to stop searching for air. Instead, search for Him.
Choose to stop looking around with your eyes. Instead, try looking through His.
You may not see Him at times, but He always sees you.
Trust in that truth.
“You are the God who sees me…
I have now seen the One who sees me.”