When we got back from lunch the day of building our sandcastle we spent most of the afternoon swimming and playing in the ocean. We floated and dipped and tread in almost bathtub warm water until the tips of our fingers were ridged.
Now, I have a confession to make. I hate doing this. I just don’t like letting anyone know I have these strange little fears. I mean, really? I’ve held snakes, held an alligator, touched a tarantula, petted the backs of bumblebees and kayaked on the ocean. But I do have some little fears and trepidations, A couple of examples: I don’t ride roller coasters (I can’t get off) or a motor cycle alone or with someone (I hate the leaning). There’s more, but they don’t seem relevant here.
But there’s one that is relevant and it’s the one I am reluctantly confessing. In 1975 I was nine years old. (You do the math.) That year a blockbuster summer movie premiered: Steven Spielberg’s JAWS. I think you may know where this is going. I saw that movie, and then my family went to
. Yes, yes we
did. Needless to say I wouldn’t go into the ocean above my ankles. My
stepfather pushed, pulled and almost carried me out into water above my waist.
I think I remember crying. I just knew that the great white shark of Jaws had
not really been killed and he was going to show up and devour me. Myrtle Beach
I laugh about that now, but then it was a real fear. I'm sorry but it didn’t matter that it was actually illogical and highly improbable. It was real for me.
Jaws doesn’t affect me anymore, but that day in the ocean for some wild and bizarre reason Soul Surfer popped in my head. Just popped right in while I was following Steve and Abby out to the sand bar. My little, idiosyncratic fears just bubbled right up to the surface. From that point I was acutely aware of every leg and arm movement around and beneath me. Yes, silly I know, but whoever said fears were logical? I spent quite a while trying to shake this creeping angst.
Steve and Abby moved steadily to the sand bar. We watched Steve closely to see where the water level hit him because he is 6’3”. Slowly I followed them. Ever on the alert. Hesitant. Reluctant. Jittery. And I was getting teased and ribbed by my husband and my daughter.
Did I ever mention out loud that I was afraid of a shark swimming beneath us? No, of course not. Oh no, I didn’t want them to know the real reason I was dragging my feet through the water.
And they kept watching me. Kept coaxing me.
My husband knows me well. He saw my reluctance. I am sure he could feel it. He knows that I am an adventurous spirit so something hindered me. Then he said it. I’m not sure how long he had been contemplating it in his mind. Perhaps it just spilled right out on the surface of the ocean and floated to me.
“What is it your blog says? Deep calls to deep? Isn’t that what it says? Why aren’t you out in the deep, Tamera?” His grin broke across his face and the knowing look was in his eye.
Abby chimed in too, “yea, Mom.” I just looked at her.
He knew. Steve knew what would compel me to swallow my fear. I swallowed. I gulped it right down: it lodged in my throat. But I began to move toward Abby and him anyway.
He held out his hand to me. The water was over my head, but not his. And as he took my hand he pulled me to him and then swung me up and held me in his arms. I gasped, but wrapped my arms around his neck. And he laughed. I felt like a bride being carried over the threshold. Abby grabbed my feet and then Steve walked a little deeper. We stayed this way for a long time laughing, joking and splashing.
Steve’s great, long arms held me in the water. Even when the waves hit him they didn’t seem to affect him. He raised me up just enough that the water wouldn’t hit me in the face. My arm curled around his neck and across his shoulder and held my other one in a clasp.
I forgot about watching for giant shadows in the water. I discarded that fear when Steve scooped me up into his arms. Even when we decided to head back to shore the creeping fear was gone. Dissipated and dissolved not by my husband’s challenge, but by his beckoning hand and his strong arms and towering height.
When God calls you to deep water, Friends, he will carry you. When you are afraid of what’s lurking beneath the surface of things He will reach out his hand to you. He will pull you to himself and swing you up into his arms.
Eventually you will relax and forget the dangers in the water. You will rest in his presence. You will relax in the curve of his arm. He will not be moved. The waves will not overtake him. He will always be able to touch bottom. He knows what is lurking in the depths, and not one thing frightens him.
Many of you are being called into deep water. God is calling your name and you are afraid. Afraid of his calling and of what is in the water. You are remembering Jaws and Soul Surfer. You have watched far too many episodes of Shark Week. You just can’t move into the deep because of what might be out there. You just can’t. You see shadows and what you don’t realize is that they are your own.
Please don’t miss what God has for you. If he calls you into the deep he will sustain you. He will uphold you. He will protect you. He will lift you.
If you will trust him he will dissipate your fears and dissolve your reluctance.
I decided to trust Steve. I chose to take his hand. I reminded myself that he is much taller and much stronger.
Because I did make this choice I made it to the second sand bar—a place I had only been in a boat before.
God wants to take you where you have never been. Out into the deep.
Swallow past the lump in your throat and trust Him.