REFLECTIONS ON WATER
I am in my "happy place." Literally. There are some places in this world that are extra-special to me and I am spending this week at one of those places — a lake house on the shores of Tablerock Lake. As I drive the winding road to the house, I have a Pavlovian response to the drive . . . tension leaves my shoulders, I breathe more deeply, and I relax. I love this place. A big part of what I love is the water; I love looking at the water, being on the water, and being in the water. The water here is clear, cool, and refreshing. Driving a boat across it, the wind is invigorating. Diving into it, the cool caress is soothing. The water here reminds me of the "still waters" David talks about in Psalm 23. These are the waters that restore my soul.
Not all waters are still, though. Some water is rough and full of waves. Some water is overwhelming. Being in water like that is terrifying because it threatens to overtake us, to pull us under. The disciples experienced this kind of water on the Sea of Galilee during a storm. The psalmist of Psalm 42 experienced this kind of water causing him to cry out, "all your breakers and waves have swept over me."
But did they? Did this water pull him under? Did the storm sink the disciples? No. The King of creation, the One who tells the waves where they must stop (Job 38:11), did not (does not) allow the waves or the storm to overtake his children. God reminded his children through the prophet Isaiah that "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you" (Isaiah 43:2, emphasis mine). Two chapters prior he told them how he would do this: "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10, emphasis mine). And that is what he does — he upholds us during the storm. He doesn’t always take us around the storms — sometimes he takes us right into the center of the storm, but he never leaves, forsakes, or abandons us to the waves. He is in the center of the storm with us. He knows when to tell the waves to stop and, while the storm is raging and the waters are rising, he is upholding us with his strong, loving, and good right arm. The promise is not that the waves won’t come. The promise is that the waves won’t win.
In southern Israel is a body of water in which it is impossible to sink. This water is not particularly refreshing — in fact, it’s called the Dead Sea (not exactly an indication of rejuvenation). But to float in this water is to experience what it means to be upheld. I floated in this water, but on no strength or effort of my own. I didn’t have to tread water or work to keep myself afloat in any way. Just the opposite. I simply had to stop striving and rest; I was being upheld.
I don’t know what kind of water you find yourself in today. Are you sitting by still waters? Remember, you have been led there by the good Shepherd. He is restoring your soul. Be grateful. Are you in the middle of a storm and feel as though the waves are going to pull you under? Remember, you are not alone and the One with you is the One who can and will tell the wind and waves where and when to stop. Trust him. It is not your efforts that will sustain you — it is the righteous right arm of you good, strong, and loving Father that is holding you. And he will never let you go.