Doubt can feel like the deep end of the ocean.
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. My doubt is an ocean with an undercurrent as deceptive and mysterious as ever. Questioning God can feel disorienting, when you’ve lived confident.
I know the truth, but my feelings leave me disoriented–displaced, feeling sideways. My doubt lately has been both ocean and anvil–both the weight submerges and the expanse that threatens to swallow me. I struggle, but I’m disoriented.
If doubt is what threatens to drown me, then it seems that faith ought to be what saves me. I cling desperately to my Jesus buoy. (Have you felt how hard doubt can pull? My faith is small–so much smaller than I want it to be.)
When you’re thrashed by the waves, stick your hands up. When you’re drowning and you’re not sure where to go to breathe, raise your arms!
Raised arms remind me of surrender. My hands are up–
I feel the air–heaven settling over my head. I’m not going to drown today.
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