I'd rather scale the side of a mountain, jump from an airplane (with a working parachute, of course) or climb a tree than to be in the depths of any body of water. There's something about the darkness, loss of sight, the pressure of the water against my body and the inability to stand on my feet and breathe in the air above me that makes me fearful of my life. I begin to panic when I'm thrust into the ocean or a lake. Yet, I love the shoreline, the beach, the ocean breeze against my face, the sand under my feet and the wildlife that lives there. It's just the depths of the water that frightens me. Mostly, I think, because I can't see or breathe.
In the heights, however, I feel free. A view from the top brings a broader perspective of the landscape below. It holds a beauty and an air of its own. Parachuting?! Well that's just a crazy notion. My husband thinks there is NO reason why anyone should want to jump from a perfectly well functioning airplane! But, I imagine flying like a bird! Have you ever watched a hawk or an eagle just gliding in a thermal air current? It's peaceful, beautiful. I want to be that bird! To be able to see the world below me, and to be enveloped by the blueness of the sky, to feel the wind and the controlled free fall of my body sounds exciting to me. But, I am reminded each time I bring it up, it is not a responsible thing to do when one is the matriarch of her family! Harrumph!
In 2000 we had an inground pool put in our backyard. Not one of those sports pools that are only 5' deep but one that's 7 1/2 feet deep with a diving board. Our kids were in their early teens and we thought it would be a great way to "entertain" them and their friends and help create some family fun times. One problem: I would be the one that was home when the friends came over after school and my swimming skills, let alone life saving skills because of my fear of depth were poor! (My husband was certified in water safety)! So, I had to face my fears in order to be a responsible mom and pool owner!
Every weekday for about a month a very patient, kind and compassionate friend got me in the pool and taught me the water skills I needed. She didn't throw me in the deep end. I would have said, "See ya later, Charlie!" Instead, she lead me into the water, in the shallow end. She stayed close. She spoke softly. She never paniced with me. She praised me when I did something right and encouraged me to practice my weaker skills. Finally, by the end of that month, she had me confident enough to jump off the diving board and land on the bottom, under 7 1/2 feet of water! (I had to look away from the water, I must admit! I actually looked to the horizon above the trees and imagined flying or jumping out of a plane)! But, I did it! I now enjoy being in the pool...even the deep end! Not so much in the ocean, though.
There are times in our walk with God that he leads us into the depths, the unknown, the places that are murky, where we can't touch the bottom and stand and where we can't catch our breath. In those times He's teaching us something: trust. God spoke to Joshua, whom He chose to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land after Moses died, saying "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Josh. 1:5). His promise is the same for us when we are heading for the deep and unknown places. He calls us to rely on Him as the source of our lives. He speaks to us softly, gently encouraging us along the way; always close by. The challenge is within ourselves...our own will.