Did you know that the biggest challenge with rescuing a drowning victim is the likely fact that they instinctively will fight against their rescuer? Neither did I, but now we both do.
The sheer panic and fear is so great that they can’t stop themselves from flailing (which, by the way, is one of my students’ vocabulary words that they tell me is not in the Dictionary…. look again students…).
But trying to snap them out of it (the drowning victims, not my students)—to awaken them to their need to simply relax and lean into the arms of their rescuer—is nearly impossible.
Well, over the past few months (since it’s been that long since I have written), I have realized that I’m that girl who’s drowning.
Let me explain.
One of the most wonderful things about God is that you can lean on him no matter what. He will always be there to catch you. Sometimes it is not exactly in the way we would picture it. In fact, it’s usually not in the way we would picture it. But He is our rescuer no matter how deep or shallow the water.
Another truly wonderful thing about God is that he calls us into deep, uncharted water with Him….
Turn to Luke Chapter 5 with me.
When Jesus first met Simon, Simon had been fishing all night long, but to no avail. The Bible doesn’t say it directly, but I believe that God made it so that those fish were too slippery that evening, because the next day Jesus used the entire dock to teach thousands of people that morning. He couldn’t have done that had Simon filled it with tons of fish. God had another purpose for Simon’s fishing dock.
Sometimes God thwarts our own plans as well. He doesn’t do it to punish us, or demand penance. He does it because our plans are too small and His plans are bigger than our worldly desires and intentions.
I promise I’m getting back to the drowning metaphor, just go with me a little longer.
So after Jesus teaches the huge crowd, he tells Simon to go out into the deep water and cast out his net. Simon starts to explain to Jesus why that seems like kind of a crazy idea. He tells Jesus that they have been fishing all night and in the shallow end (the way every fisherman fished during this time), and that going into the deep water at midday just didn’t seem right…. BUT he tells Jesus that at his command, he will do it.
There’s the key.
Simon had been through it. He’d been fishing all night with nothing to show for it. He was tired, hungry, and embarrassed. And he’s about to go do something so silly that all his fishermen friends will think he’s even more of a crack pot than he seems. But he does it anyway. Because Jesus told him to.
And lo and behold, what does Simon find? His nets are bursting with fish! He can’t even bring all of the fish onto the boat!
Jesus messed up Simon’s plans in order to create a testimony for him, then he rewarded his faith through obedience with the treasure Simon was seeking in the first place!
The piece I really want to grab onto in this illustration is the fact that Jesus called Simon out into the deep. He took him into uncharted, deep waters in order to test his faith and require his dependence, and then He helped him not only survive, but He helped him thrive! God calls us to do this in our lives as well. He calls us out into the deep water so that we cannot touch the bottom, so that we cannot keep our heads afloat, no, not without his help.
The thing is, many times we start to get this whole “drowning” mentality even before He calls us out to the deep.
We like being in the shallow water.
First of all, it’s warmer. It’s clear, so we can see the bottom and we can see any fish or pieces of rock or floating seaweed that get in our path. But most importantly, we can stand in it without fear or threatening waves. We depend on no one but ourselves in the shallow water. We do not need help breathing because out heads are far above the water. We do not need help standing because our feet touch the bottom. We can handle ourselves in the shallow water.
But when God calls us into deep water, when He demands our heart and faith and life, He is not going to let us stand alone. No, He needs us to lean on Him in order to stand so He can use us in the way we were created to be used, and He makes sure of it by taking us from the comfort of ankle-deep water.
But don’t you know? You are much better off with Jesus in deep waves than you are without Him standing alone in the shallow pools, even when He dunks us under that water. Like baptism, He puts us in over our head. We can’t see, we can’t breathe on our own, and we don’t even know which way is up. We fight going deeper down and we fight coming up for air. We fight our one and only Help. But don’t you know? It doesn’t matter how much farther in over your head you go once you’re underwater in the first place!
God will come, with rescue breathes or an air tank, or some goggles, or whatever it is you need out there in the deep. You just have to relax and accept His help.
…. See, I say “you”, but I really mean “I” or “me”. Remember, I’m that girl who’s drowning.
I’ve been fighting against Christ’s calling for me, almost without realizing it. I know that if I just surrender to it, I’ll discover that rescue is only breaths away. But I also know that if I surrender to it, I might just discover that God needs more of a testimony in my life… and I know enough to know that will be difficult.
My fear is that He has given me too much to handle, or that He’s squashing my strong personality. My fear is that I’ll fail or that I’ll become a boring mold without uniqueness or beauty.
I realize how ridiculous this is. First of all, it’s a guarantee that God will give me “too much” to handle because He knows that’s the only way I’ll ask for His help in prayer. And God has made me strong, beautiful, and unique, so following Him would never make those traits disappear, but rather be augmented in His light.
I’ve been thinking to myself, “I’ve got this God! Don’t you worry about me!”
But in reality, I’m fighting against His help, thinking I can swim downwards and get air from the sand.
Fighting His will is too exhausting to be good for me. I know that if I let go and give in, if I cease flailing, throw my arms upward, and let His current take me under, I know His Grace will find me there and that I’ll be stronger for it.
I’ve been a drowning girl flailing around, trying to escape the very one who holds my entire life’s breath. And that…. well it’s just kind of silly. So I’m going to stop drowning out there on my own and start being Saved with Jesus Christ, my life boat.
What deep water is God calling you to? Are you fighting His Help? What testimony has God created in your life?