“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
The torrent of rain we had yesterday and our pool filled almost to overflowing have my thoughts wandering back to the time when the Lord put his hand on me and changed me with regards to water.
Up until two years ago, I was terrified of the water. Even the shallow end of a pool made me nervous if I stepped too close to the water that would be over my head. I took swimming lessons every summer as a child until I was 12. Then, I begged to be released — I was the only 12 year old in a class with first graders. I just couldn’t get past the fear of the water.
It is difficult to explain this fear to someone who swims like a fish. It’s not merely a matter of not wanting to go deep; it’s more of a crushing fear. When my husband took me out in the deep water, I held on for dear life not just because I loved hugging him, but because I was terrified. Imagine being so scared of something that your chest squeezes tight, your knees and hands shake, and you forget how to breathe.
And then there was Florida. We moved to the resort-style neighborhood of Eagle Harbor. Suddenly I was facing not one but two huge neighborhood pools and a daughter who wanted to go swimming every day but was afraid to get her head wet. Her first swim lessons were not good ones. It’s not surprising; kids are very good at picking up on their parents’ fears.
One day in my quiet time I came upon the verse from Isaiah 43. Suddenly I felt as if the Holy Spirit knocked me upside the head. “Hello, Christie! This one is for you!” I flashed to an image of myself relaxing in the water, held up by the hands of God himself. The next thing I knew I was signing Cadi — and myself — up for swim lessons.
My instructor’s name was Carol, and she had been teaching kids and adults for over 25 years. Carol was God’s gift to me. She helped me learn, step by step. When she saw how stressed I was about getting my face under the water, she taught me how to swim on my back. When my chest pounded painfully and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe, she let me sit on the steps and pray. And as I prayed the Lord reminded me again and again,
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. “
Happily, Cadi learned how to swim right alongside me.
Today, we both enjoy swimming in our pool. Truth is, she’s a much stronger swimmer than I am. But I AM a swimmer. I can make it across the pool. I can enjoy a day in the sunshine with my family in the water instead of sitting on the water’s edge. It’s taken me a long time. God was always there. He just wasn’t — and isn’t — finished with me yet!
Next step: flying without anxiety. Jon and Cadi are leaving this Friday for a trip to London. His wonderful mother is going in my place. I honestly could not make myself sit on an airplane for nine hours. I have to say that as much as I will miss them, I know God has some growing in store for me. I will spend my time resting in Him and learning from Him.
Is there something God is working out in you?