What happens when adversity comes at you or God calls you to a deeper place, "out onto the waters" so to speak? What happens when suddenly you find yourself face to face with that step of faith into an unknown circumstance whether its through a trial or some other seemingly impossible avenue? You're at the shore and you're meant to step in and go deep. The waves start coming at you, larger than you expected. Unending.
Being in over our heads whether it's a trial God has for us or simply moving to a deeper level of relationship with Him can be really uncomfortable or frightening because of the unknowns involved. If we are moving away from the shore, a motif that signifies going where God is and away from what's normal and comfortable and natural to our flesh, sometimes we will meet waves and surf that crash hard around us and into us. As I considered this topic one Sunday after church a few pictures came to mind.
In regard to rough waves. We can 1) fight the waves(trials/uncomfortableness) but can be so draining and who knows how long it will last? 2)we can give up, cry victim and let the waves push us back, never getting anywhere. 3) We can do what surfers do and dive under the wave and go through. Essentially, embrace it. The surfer eventually makes it through the rough waves to the spot where the best ones to catch are and there's freedom then to just GO and do what they were born to do. You might have to wait a while in that zone for the perfect wave to come and it can be scary(I imagine) to be surrounded by that much water while you wait. The deep, dark depths that you can't see or understand are below you. Also, it might be lonely! These deep waters aren't as crowded as the shore is.
Focussing on the unknown and the what-ifs and circumstances of life will lead to unrest and anxiety which leads me to my next scene.
I was on the lake at the cottage last summer and swam out a fair distance from the dock to get a better view of the impending sunset. It was a brilliant one and the water was so beautiful and still. I must have been out there for at least an hour with no flotation device to keep me up. I don't consider myself a strong swimmer and yet I was amazed at how long I stayed out there without getting tired. At first I had begun treading water but that cost me energy I didn't want to waste. I'll also admit that the more I was able to spy the murky lake water beneath me the more I started internally freaking out at the thought of all the slimy fish that must have been lurking nearby. I also harboured some worry about my distance from the dock. What if i got a cramp or a limb stopped working(my imagination easily could have gotten out of control!)?! I could have kept treading water to keep an eye on everything(what if a boater didn't see me?!) and making sure I didn't get into trouble but instead I floated on my back and I was completely free from fear. I didn't have to do anything. My worries disappeared because I was too "busy" looking up at the sky and seeing the beautiful, mesmerizing clouds and simply marvelling at God and his masterpiece instead of focussing on my fears of what was creeping below or what might go wrong. It was truly a heavenly moment that me and those with me got lost in.
Lastly, I once read that to save a drowning person you must wait until they've tuckered themselves out with their flailing before you can grab hold and rescue them because otherwise you risk being injured by them or pulled under. In their fear and panic they try so hard to save themselves and remain afloat and in control. It is only once they have come to be still that their rescuer can safely come behind them and carry them to safety.
In all three of these scenarios I can see our daily lives. Are we flailing? Or are we still? Are we treading water in our own strength or are we flat on our backs in surrender with our eyes to heaven? When the waves crash down on us are we resisting them and getting battered down while trying to move forward, are we giving up and letting them carry us back or are we diving in and going through the wave and going under knowing what the other side promises?
It comes down to control. And freedom. Do you want to be free? Do you want to be in control? The flailing, the struggling against, the treading looking every which way for possible things to avoid are all a lack of surrender. My pastor summed it up: We can be in control or we can be free. But we cannot be both.
Jesus set us free so that we could be free not so that we would succumb to fear of the unknown or uncomfortable. To flail, to tread, to resist(sometimes resisting is good but I'm meaning to fight uncomfortable things that God sends for our good) even though it may seem productive and comforting are often ways we insist on keeping control over our lives and the things in it. But we simply aren't free then and we actually put ourselves in a cage. A cage that God never intended us to be in. We miss out on his goodness! To be still on the waters knowing our rescuer is near, to float over the deep with our eyes raised upward in awe of His Glory, to go under the wave knowing what waits for us when we get to our destination; these are a giving up of control but are ultimately a path to rest and freedom. The idea of surrendering in order to gain freedom is often a foreign one to the world who would rather fight for it no matter what it takes but we don't have to try so hard as believers in Christ. Our victory is quite accomplished already. We just need to surrender, abide and enjoy our freedom.
May we be in over our heads more often.