At the beginning of this week, waves of uncertainty were washing over me and I felt like I was drowning with weariness from my physical pain and our continued testing. Thankfully, circumstances have lightened and I have sensed answers to your many prayers – thank you! Last weekend, after a scary night of pain in my back, that made me feel like I was going to pass out, I am finally seeing the results of my exercises and doctor visits. The pain in my back and hip has lessened and the doctor believed it was coming from a pinched nerve between my 4th and 5th vertebrae in which they needed to be slightly adjusted and strengthened.
Our stress was lifted after we also hit some obstacles with the journal in the 11th hour and needed to stop print until they were resolved. I had to make some decisions concerning the print run and paper size. Thankfully, these issues are resolved and we are ready to roll again!
But my feelings this week have been similar to my swimming experience yesterday. I arrived at the pool at a somewhat of crowded time and I wasn’t able to have my own lane. I’m not crazy about sharing a lane; it puts pressure on me to perform well, which can be a good motivator or bad, causing me stress under water! The gentlemen I shared my lane with obviously had been swimming awhile. He swam seemingly without any effort, and I lost count how many times he passed me!
Since I’d only been swimming one week, I switched around my routine so I could breathe: One lap free style, one lap breast stroke, one lap back stroke, and I used the kick board. I never conquered the butterfly. My lane partner – oh, he just kept doing freestyle effortlessly down and back.
Attempting to keep up to prevent him from lapping me again, I was swimming freestyle and I literally ran out of breath, gasping each time I lifted my head. I did find hope in being able to see the wall just a short distance away, but truly what brought me peace was that I knew the Lifeguard was watching over me. (A cute one too! Maybe a rescue wouldn’t be so bad!) In each stroke, I did have to coach myself, “Slow down,” and “breath deep.” “I won’t drown!”
Thankfully, I made it to the wall, gasping again and taking a break to fix my steamed up goggles. I decided to head back down the lane and I flipped over to do the back stroke. About midway down the lane as I attempted to stick close to the lane rope to avoid hitting my skilled lane partner, I accidentally hit the gentleman in the next lane with my arm. He was also sharing his lane and up close to the lane rope. I quickly apologized, “Oh, sorry!” as I swam the rest of the length.
Later in my workout, as I was hanging on the wall to recuperate, the gentleman I had accidentally hit stopped to rest as well. He turned and said to me, “Did I hit you or did you hit me?” I immediately took responsibility and reaffirmed by apologies. I had noticed he had been swimming the side stroke and at the time I had not thought much of it, until he spoke. Right away it appeared to me he was what my kids call “a special kid,” with slight disabilities. These observations were affirmed as he quickly told me he had been in a car wreck at the age of nineteen and as well, I witnessed his crooked smile and a huge scar on his shoulder.
He proceeded to ask my name and tell me his. Then he told me his age…of 53. The next question out of his mouth surprised me, “How old are you?” I smiled and said straight out, “I’m not tellin,’” then I gave in and said, “43 and I have some years on you!” He laughed with a big toothy grin.
After I had observed every strenuous effort he had made to swim, out of my mercy welling up inside, I just had to tell him he was doing a great job swimming. His stroke was actually one you’d see a four year old child make – a sideways doggy paddle.
Here God goes again…When I think I am drowning in my own problems, God always brings someone with a worse circumstance across my path to renew my mind and attitude, to remind me to be thankful for what I do have. I am reminded of the scripture,“Take no thought of your life…”
While I continued to swim, I thought back to the suffocating, drowning feeling I had felt earlier in my rushed freestyle workout. It’s not the brave capable swimmer that God comes down to rescue, but it’s those who in the height of the storm, when it has reached its peak, to those who are drowning – that’s when the Rescuer comes down to save! When he hears our cry – what sense of tenderness and comfort of refuge and safety the awareness of his presence brings…just like the Life guard looking over me – ready to rescue those in need. God used a new friend that day to rescue me.
Is it part of God’s method to allow us in our sufferings to get to a breaking point, to reach the point we feel like we can’t take any more? Does he allow us to sink until we desperately call out “Jesus!” And then he lifts us up – Rescued from the crashing waves. We are found totally dependent on him, resting in his arms of refuge and strength. “There is no other name by which men can be saved” (Acts 4:12).
My Bible study this week has even led me to the story when Jesus and the disciples were on the water. (Matthew 8:23-37, Mark 4:35-41) Without warning, a violent squall suddenly blew waves over the side of the boat so that “it was nearly swamped.” The disciples had rowed and rowed, at the point that they were terrified of drowning, their thoughts turn to Jesus. Where was Jesus? They found him sleeping on a cushion in the stern. The disciples eagerly woke him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” I’ve pondered those thoughts myself at times.
Jesus could have calmed the storm at the first sight of the angry waves, but no lesson would have been learned for disciples, or left for us. Once invited to act, Jesus responded with an authoritative rebuke and immediately calmed the wind and the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The anxious disciples again stood amazed as the wind died down and it became completely calm. Safely they arrived on the other side of the lake.
Jesus asks the disciples a question that penetrates my heart and challenges my faith as if in my own circumstances Jesus was addressing me, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Sometimes I find myself responding in the panic mode, with scepticism or little faith. In this story Jesus was fully human, yet fully God. Of course he needed to sleep, but now, on this side of his death and resurrection he no longer takes his eye off of us. “From his dwelling place, he watches over all who live on earth – he who watches over you will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 33:14, 121:3).
He hears our cry and comes to our rescue. His promise is sure, “I will rescue you…” (Isaiah 46:4b). He proclaims with authority as the waves of trials come into our lives, “Quiet! Be still!” Trust him to calm your storm…or renew your perspective. Invite him into your sinking ship!
The Rescuer comes extending his outstretched hand to you in your “drowning” circumstances to help you catch your breath. His presence is always with us – ready to save a willing soul. At the pinnacle of our panic, at the “fullness of time” Jesus Rescues. “Don’t be afraid…only believe.” Pray with me “Oh, Lord I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” May he flood our lives with his calming presence.