Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
~Psalm 42:7 New King James Version (NKJV)~
A few months ago, I took the opportunity to finally be baptized at church. I’ve been a Christian for a while; was saved at fifteen, but really have only been walking with God for the past four years or so. Or should I say, I’ve been walking near Him. Most of the time, it has felt as though I was like the woman with the issue of blood who was pressing through the crowd, trying desperately to reach Him. In any case, I was baptized and my expectation was that I would immediately be “flooded” with a new sense of His Spirit living in me. I had hoped that it would somehow re-energize me or re-charge me; as I have been feeling very weary for quite some time now. Oddly, it seemed to make things worse. Right after being baptized, I went through a couple of challenging relationship issues and eventually had to cut ties with two friends. I was also dealing with money problems after having been under-employed for several months, having transportation issues, and generally feeling like a dud. I was missing people who were no longer with me. I was full of regret at having made choices that I knew had been the right choices at the time I’d made them. I was constantly second-guessing myself and as a result, began to second-guess my God.
I know better than this. At the time that all of this was happening, I had just gotten word that my ministry’s 501 (c)(3) application had finally been approved. I was working on three different projects for my publishing company. I was also working as a temp and looking at a very good chance of being hired on as a regular employee at a job that I enjoyed. Things were pretty positive in spite of my insistence on picking them apart. I knew that God was working with me, but I didn’t realize that He was slowly and patiently trying to get me into the habit of leaning on Him and believing in Him for the things I needed. I’d gotten so used to Him just taking care of me that when He began to require me to exercise my faith on a different level, I started acting like a spoiled child who had just been asked to do chores in order to earn an allowance. But even through my immature responses, He continued to guide me and walk with me. And He continued to command me to walk toward Him as He stood in the distance on top of the water like in Matthew 14.
For a time, I attempted that walk across the water. But, like Peter, I soon fell into the depths and found myself crying out, “Lord, save me.” Why had I doubted? What would ever cause me to wonder if He would be there for me? He is the only one who is always there. He is the only one that affords me 100% of His affections and His attention at all times. No other friend or loved one can claim that. I can’t think of any who would even try. In truth, we’re doing good to get 10% from those who claim to love us. We’re not capable of better than that on a consistent basis. No matter how much we want to be there for each other; it simply isn’t possible to be all things to any one person. But this Jesus is the One who wiped my tears when my heart was broken, time and time again. He is the One who made me feel clean again after a friend took advantage of me and raped me during one of my drunken blackouts years ago. He is the One who brought peace to my heart after I suffered my fifth miscarriage. He is the One who made me feel whole again after my failed marriage left me feeling like Shel Silverstein’s Giving Tree. He is the One who showed me that I could be all of the things He made me to be no matter what anyone else had said about me. And He continues to show me just how much He loves me each and every day.
But as usual, I try too hard and I often miss the point of what He is trying to show me because I’m too busy trying to figure out if it’s really Him. Did He bring me this job? Did He bring me the car? Was it Him that removed a certain problem from my life? Were all of these miracles that He performed or is it the devil trying to sucker me into living a life that will ultimately draw me away from wanting to follow God at all? One of the things I’ve been trying to work on is my tendency to sometimes be more concerned with what something looks like than what it really is. It looks like I’m finally working at a job that allows me to support my daughter and myself. It looks like I finally have a decent car that doesn’t make all sorts of terrible noises when I drive it. It looks like I’ve finally gotten rid of that one bad influence who only stuck around to take advantage of me. But then, it could also look like I’m just falling into step with the world and there is nothing in what I’m doing that sets me apart from those who don’t believe or follow God.
I don’t want to be shallow and I don’t ever want to come to a place where I’m content to go through the motions of life. And as I get drawn deeper and deeper into the waters, I am terribly aware that there might be a point where I lose the desire to even try to step out of the boat. Am I in danger of losing my desire to serve Him because my life is now placing different demands on me? If I feel compelled to do ministry and I have no time to do it, does it mean I’m not really devoted to living my life for God? No, that’s not what it means. If it was all about what I think or what I do, then there would be no point to any of it, really. It’s about who I follow and my willingness to follow Him through the seasons of my life with the understanding that the way I think I ought to serve Him is probably not always going to be the way He intends for me to serve Him. What I think really doesn’t matter much if I am so caught up in doing what I think will work that I fail to follow Him through what looks to be an unnecessary or illogical part of this journey.
The more I try to figure Him out, the more He confuses me. And so, I’ve come to a place where I think the idea of surrender is starting to make more sense than it has ever made. If I don’t want to drive myself crazy, I need to give it all to Him and let Him make it what it needs to be. It reminds me of the few times in my life when I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool and started to make my way back to the surface. I’m swimming frantically to try and get my head above water before I run out of air and then finally, a breakthrough. I can breathe again. Thank you, Jesus! Makes sense to me. Without Him, it always feels like a struggle. And no matter how good a swimmer I am, I can still be taken under if I trust the water more than the One who walks on it.
He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.
~Psalm 18:16 New King James Version (NKJV)~