A dear friend once told me this story of her childhood. She, like me, always wanted to push the envelope, test her own limits. At a young age, she decided that she was capable of swimming from one end of the pool to the other. So with a big push, off she went, kicking and paddling forcefully to the other side. About halfway, she paused to take a breath and grabbed for the edge, but there was no edge. There was just a sheer wall with nothing to hold onto. Now flailing and choking, panic set in. From the other side of the pool, her dad saw what was happening, and fully clothed, palm pilot on his hip, shoes and all, he jumped in after her. In an instant, she was safe. Her father’s arms were around her.
When my friend told me this story, I felt sick to my stomach. I know that feeling all too well. I know what it feels like to be sinking, despite my own kicking and flailing, with nothing to grab hold of. It is the terrifying reality of this season of life in which I find myself.
For months now, I have been fighting to keep my head above water. Fighting to grasp something, anything, on the side that can give me stability. Gasping for one last big breath before my body is fully submerged, because I never know how long I’ll be under.
In Matthew Chapter 14, after Jesus has finished preaching and feeding a crowd of five thousand, he commands his disciples to go out onto the sea. The wind picked up, and the boat became battered by the waves through the night. I can imagine they were very afraid and confused. In the morning, they saw a figure coming towards them, walking across the water. They were probably so freaked out. But then the “ghost” announced himself: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter still does not trust Him, so he tests Him: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” So Jesus calls him out onto the waters. Peter gets out of the boat and walks towards Him. But when the wind picks up, Peter freaks out and begins to sink. Peter cries out for Jesus to save him and with a mere touch of His hand, He catches Peter. Jesus then says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
I often act like Peter. I am frequently the one “of little faith.” I test Him, and then I panic if things are arduous or uncertain. For about a year now, I have been praying the same prayers to be made more in His image, to be refined through the fire, to be made holy through the storms of life. But as soon as the conditions change, doubt creeps up, and fear takes hold. Why? I’m the one who asked for the Lord to refine me. He is only allowing me to experience these storms of life, not for my own demise, but for my own sanctification through Him and for Him.
I often get prideful, as I’m sure Peter felt in that moment when he stepped onto the sea and began walking. I try to take the wind and the waves in my own stride. I am stubborn and hardheaded and want to prove it to myself, and others, that I can do it alone. But I take a few steps, and I sink. We are not supposed to do this life on our own.
My friend’s father laughed at her when she was in his arms, just as I’m sure our Heavenly Father does. “You silly girl, why did you think you could do that without me? Let me help you. Allow me to walk with you, even carry you.” As I’m choking and sputtering, He brushes my hair back from my face, wipes the snot from my nose and kisses my forehead: “You are not supposed to do this alone. More than anything, I want to swim alongside you, my dear.”
I really do believe that Jesus is who He says He is. Often times, I don’t act like it though; I take life into my own hands when it wasn’t mine in the first place. For now, I am learning to ask for help. I am learning to recognize my own inadequacy and His mastery. I am learning, like a four year old at the pool that I cannot make it to the other end on my own. I can try, and He will be there when my head goes under, but why not invite Him into these precious moments? He wants to gently rest His hand under our belly, instruct us how to kick and paddle, and help us float towards the other side of the pool. Yes, we will take some big gulps of pool water, our heads might submerge, and our muscles might tire, but we can trust that His hand is right under us, ready to catch us. It is here that I find hope.
It is when we are in close communion with our Father that we are breathing deeply of the preciousness of life. In those dear moments of intimacy, our Father delights in us, like a child. He lights up when we ask for His help, when we recognize that we cannot do this life on our own. Like a father, he has experienced all that this worldly life has to offer because He sent His Son to be with us. He knows the uncertain feeling of the waters lapping the bottom of His feet. He feels the chill of the wind as it raises the hair of His arms. He has looked down into the dark abyss of the ocean below.
When the winds are strong and the waves are high, the wisdom echoed is worth more than all the world’s riches. If He calls us out onto that wild sea, He will not fail. He will not waver. His hand will be there always. He just wants us to “take heart” and trust. In Him I find hope.
Hi! I’m Katy. I hail from the great state of Texas, but for the last four years I've called California home. I am a senior at Pepperdine majoring in International Studies. If I'm not in the library buried in research, you can find me running or hiking. I am blessed to be a Young Life leader for a group of high school girls that I’ve watched fall in love with Jesus. Give me a home-cooked meal and great conversation sprinkled with a different language and I'm a happy girl. When given the option, I'll take the day or two without a shower if it means being out in God's creation. I see God as the author of life, because His are the best stories. And so to make His name known, I write. I hope you'll join me.