The other night we went to the ocean. I love being on the beach after the crowds have gone to dinner. Some of my most peaceful and contented times have been sitting in the sand in the evening, watching the waves come in, seeing the amazing sky, feeling the breeze that is always there. I’m not a beach person so much during the day – too many crowds, too much direct sun. But I love it in the evenings.
That night I decided to join my family as they jumped in waves and tried to stay standing upright. It was COLD! (NJ beaches in August are not like Georgia beaches in August!) but after my feet lost all feeling, it was ok. I enjoyed feeling the power of the waves and the spray, then watching as the water ran back out into the vast ocean attempting to pull my feet with it. I was in shallow enough that I could stay in control.
Then I wandered a little deeper, challenged by the fact that Shawn was out farther than me and I wanted to experience it with him. Suddenly a big one hit me dead on! I fell into the water, which was ok, until another one hit right away and I couldn’t pull myself up. I was not in any real danger – I was already pushed back to shallow water and Shawn immediately grabbed my arm and helped pull me out of the water. But for a brief second I was terrified! I couldn’t right myself, my mind went blank, and I frantically searched to see if Shawn saw me, knowing he would grab me when he saw how scared I was.
Afterwards, a little embarrassed and still slightly panicked, I went and sat on the shore. There I was able to clear my mind and think straight. I realized that the danger had really only been in my mind. (I know that riptides are real, and I was probably thinking of that when I went under – but this was not a danger situation!) Shawn explained that the key was relaxing. I was so busy trying to right myself, or trying to stay in control and standing up, that I made it worse. Had I just relaxed for a few seconds, I would have been fine. Not one to allow my fears to made me helpless anymore, I went back in. After getting hit a few more times, I relaxed, and began to enjoy it.
Water like that makes me feel helpless and out of control. I don’t like feeling helpless and out of control. I know, I know…
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
My life feels like this ocean experience right now. Slowly edging my way out to where the “big stuff” is, getting hit, having everything turn upside down and not being in control or knowing which way is up for a moment, then being pulled out of the water by strong arms. Catching my breath for a few moments on land, then going back in (however cautiously, but still wanting to have the adventure) and doing it all again. And like in the ocean, there no guarantees that the longer I do it, the longer or better I will stand. Sometimes the unknown hits me like a huge wave and knocks me off my feet. Other times I can ride it out, catch a little of the spray and laugh. But then a few minutes later – just when I think I have it figured out – another wave of epic proportions hits.
“You call me out upon the waters. The great unknown where feet may fail. And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand. And I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours, and you are mine.” (Oceans by Hillsong)