Difficult seasons don’t always come with a warning.
Storms can blow up out of nowhere and suddenly, you think your drowning. Sometimes, you don’t just think it–you are certain of it.
It’s been a hard week here. Maybe it has been for you too. As I’ve tried to make sense of things, as I’ve wrung my hands and my heart out at the base of the cross, I was reminded of my own words.
I’ve nearly drowned before. I know what to do when life flips me end over end–I haven’t had the strength this week to do it. But you’ve held my arms up. You’ve circled around and supported me in ways that I can’t even begin to thank you for…so these old words, they are for you too.
I’m preaching the gospel to myself, because Jesus saves and I need some saving tonight.
I was 14 the summer I got lost in the waves. I nearly drown that summer, in the rip curling waves of the Atlantic. It wasn’t red-flag day but the tide was strong enough, and the undercurrent deceptive and fierce. I wasn’t far from shore when that wave swept me under but everybody knows that sometimes, it doesn’t take much before your gasping for breath.
The problem wasn’t the one wave that finally flipped me. It was the three waves before that, that all crashed over top of my head, every time I came up for air. The fourth wave was the one that took me under the longest.
I don’t remember how old I was when my Mother taught me to raise my arms if I ever got disoriented under water.Thank God, I remembered that nugget in that long moment, as the wave pounded and rolled me like a rag doll under it’s foaming fists. I rolled and rolled–I couldn’t see anything but sand.
In a desperate moment my hands shot up, only to punch sand. What I thought was the surface, was instead the sea floor. I managed to plant my feet enough to kick off in the opposite direction, all the while my arms held stiff, straight up feeling for the surface. I had no air left.
I came up gasping, weeping frantic tears.
I had nearly drowned, and nobody had seen a thing.
I didn’t get back in the ocean that trip, or really, since.
Life has rolled me over some weary days and I’ve grown terribly disoriented and fearful looking for the surface. I don’t understand what is happening, or why or how or when it will end, and things will be normal again.
I know the truth–I know God knows all of these things, and that I don’t have to, but my feelings leave me disoriented–displaced, feeling sideways. My aching lately has been both ocean and anvil–both the weight that submerges and the expanse that threatens to swallow me. We need a rescuer. We need directions and we need them fast. I confess, I am afraid.
If fear is what threatens to drown me, then it seems that faith ought to be what saves me. I’m clinging desperately to my Jesus buoy.
When you’re thrashed by the waves, stick your hands up. When you’re drowning and you’re not sure how to catch your breath–raise your arms!
Raised arms, it’s the posture of surrender, the posture of worship. My hands are up–you are holding them for me.
I feel the air–heaven above me–
I’m not going to drown today.
*edited from the archives