This morning I woke up at the beach in a condo with my first-ever-as-a-leader women's retreat. As I was brushing my teeth and asking the Lord what He wanted me to share for devotions He asked me this: "Why do you think you like the ocean so much?" I gotta be honest and say it really only took me a minute to grab hold of why even though I know without a doubt that I've never really thought about it. I love the ocean because I can stand at the edge of the water and look out into the vastness of the horizon and rest in knowing that there is so much more out there that I can't see. And when I'm brave enough to swim out past the breaking waves and reach the calm swells I can feel the power of the ocean and my lack of control of where it takes me. He had me there.
I was suddenly overtaken by the thought that that's just like me and God, how I've always been in my relationship with Him. I love the vastness and the power and the beauty. But it scares me when I can't reach down a toe and feel the sand underneath my feet or what I can't see in the water. I'm good as long as I'm in control.
Quite a few years back I had a really scary moment at the beach. The funny thing was it actually happened during a really scary time in my life, too. I mean it was one of those seasons in your life when you're not sure if you're gonna make it or not. So here I am out in the water and I am not a championship swimmer but I can hold my own and never had a bad experience in all of years of wave riding. Josh was surfing and I was there floating around when all of the sudden I couldn't touch. I freaked out because the waves were pulling me further and further out and I couldn't bring myself back in. I called out for Josh but over the roar of the waves he couldn't hear me. I prayed and prayed and just knew that this was it for me. I was gonna drown right there within yards of my husband and he could do nothing to save my life. I started to hyper venilate and as embarrassing as it is to share I was serious about thinking I was going to die. So, I made myself calm down, take deliberate breaths, think about the movement of my arms and legs and working with the waves and not against. God brought me in to shore. I sat there huddled in a heap and crying and thanking God for saving me and I knew it was one of those moments when He was taking the opportunity to show me that the things I was clinging to for safety were nothing compared to Him. I was undone.
I never go to the beach and stick my feet in the water without remembering that lesson. It still scares me and I don't like going out that far anymore. But I am sobered to remember that while a healthy respect of the water is not a reason to leave it all behind and never venture out again. God is powerful and all knowing and completely in control even when I think that I should be. He can be scary for me at times when I want to see what's out there and where He is pulling me to. That's where faith comes in.
Matthew 14:22-31 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”“Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”