Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Learning to Swim

"The waters closed over my head, and I thought I was about to perish. I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea. . .You came near when I called you, and you said, 'Do not fear.'" Lamentations: 3:54-57 (NIV)

"Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me." Psalm 69: 1-2 (NIV) 

“'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?' Matthew 14:28-31 (NIV) 


It’s summer and we splurged this year on season passes to the local water park. Now that all four of my kids can finally swim, it’s nice to go there and cool off from the brutal Texas heat. I don’t get in the water much, but I love watching my kids splash around and have fun. 

As a girl, I was a late swimmer, almost ten before I felt comfortable in the deep end of a pool. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. 

When I was a very young girl, I took swimming lessons. I remember learning to put my face in the water and blow bubbles. I was fine as long as the water was shallow enough for me to stand. 

But one day the swimming instructors took me to the deep end and let go of me. I sank.

Of course they pulled me up right away, but the damage was done. I was traumatized. For years after, I refused to even go near the deep end of any pool. 

It wasn’t until the summer before 4th grade when I finally figured it out. And it was because of my Daddy. 

My father isn’t a certified lifeguard or a swimming expert. But when he would tread water in the deep end with his arms open, beckoning me to jump off the diving board and promising he would catch me, I believed him. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Daddy would not let me go under, and he certainly wouldn’t let me drown. So I jumped. 

And he caught me. 

Every single time. 

Before long, I got more and more comfortable in the water and was able to relax enough to actually swim on my own. 

But I never would have gotten there without being able to trust my father. 

Those swim instructors who let go of me ruined my trust. But my Daddy restored it. 

It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn in my spiritual life as well. 

There are plenty of things in life that are downright scary. Storms rain down on us and seem to flood our worlds with trouble. It can give us the sense that we're drowning. I can’t even count how many times I’ve felt like I was in an emotional struggle just to keep my head above water. 

Maybe that’s why the psalmists referred to the feeling so often. It’s a common human experience. 

Remember this, though: we have a spiritual Father who is infinitely able to keep us afloat. 

His arms are always open and ready to catch us. He promises to keep our heads above water, to lift us up and give us breath. 

If we refuse to trust Him, though, we miss out. If we stubbornly cling to the safety of the diving board, well, we won’t ever experience the joy of full immersion. 

God’s love is an infinite ocean. He wants us swimming in it, surrounded by it. He wants his Living Water to seep into the very marrow of our bones as we soak Him up.

For our part, we have to trust Him enough to be willing to take the plunge. 

I’ve always been a bit of a control freak, so it’s only natural that as a special needs mom, I like to be in charge. What I’ve found through my son’s struggles, however, is just how little control I really have. 

It was super scary at first. I get antsy and anxious when life doesn't go exactly according to my plan. For most of my life, I've preferred the predictability and perceived safety of the diving board. 

But slowly, little by little, I have learned to let go of fear and trust my heavenly Father. 

He is not going away. He is never going to put down His arms. He is ever and eternally ready to catch me and hold my head above the waves. 

He wants you in the water, too, you know. Even though it seems scary there, it's the safest place to be, there in His embrace. 

Will you trust Him? Can you let go of the need for control and trust Him to do what He does best? 

Because it’s only through that learning to trust Him completely that we ever learn to swim in the wild ocean of His love.


Father, God, how you smile as you beckon us to come to you! Your embrace is the safest place to be. It is our stronghold, a tower and refuge of strength. You are the Living Water, the very source of life for us. But God, we are fearful creatures. We cling to our false idols of self-preservation and self-trust. Help us to let go. Remind us of your goodness. You always keep your promises. You always save us. And your arms are indeed everlasting. Lord, we believe; help us overcome our unbelief!

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