Have you ever swum in water where your feet could not touch the bottom of the pool? Most people have at one point in their lives. As a child, there’s a sense of bravery and pride in going to the “deep end”of the pool. The part where your feet cannot touch, and you exemplify how strong you are, being able to swim and tread water. I remember, as a child, the sense of respect the kids who could go to the “deep end” had from all of us other “shallow end swimmers”. Then, one day, it happens…it’s your turn to go try to swim in the deep end. The teacher calls your name, and you slowly approach the side of the pool. Thoughts race through your head, wondering if you’ll be able to tread water for the entire minute that your teacher wants you to. Wondering what the other kids will think if you fail. Wondering if you’ve practiced enough. Wondering if you can really do it. You jump in, and feel the water overtake your tiny body, and feel yourself sink. There’s a moment of panic, wondering if you’ll bob back up again. Within seconds, you feel your body lighten and start to move upward, and a wave of relief sweeps over you. The next instant your head is back above water, and you take a deep breath of fresh air. Then, relying on your own strength, you start to tread water, moving your legs and arms in a frantic circular motion, hoping that you can keep this up for the next 60 seconds. You have your doubts, but then look at the other kids eyes focused solely on you and think ‘I can’t fail at this, I’ve go to get through it’!
Maybe you succeed at the “deep water test”, maybe you don’t. and for the purpose of this blog entry, the end result doesn’t matter, really. Because my point is this…in life we have “deep end” tests. Sometimes we see them coming and slowly approach the edge of the pool. Other times, we are waiting in line for the swings, and suddenly find our self in the pool,fully clothed and upside down, lungs filling with water, not knowing which way is up or down. We wonder if we will survive this, or if its just ‘the end’ for us.
We all have challenges in life, some foreseen, and some take us completely by surprise. Most often, the ones where we endure grief are the ones where we have no idea if we will make it out of this. We initially rely on our own strength. After all, we should be able to handle this too, right? But then, our strength comes to an end, and for those without a Jesus to lean into, I don’t know what you do at that point. I only know the other side. The side where the “me” ends, and where Jesus begins.
When I’m thrown into the deep waters of life, and the air in my lungs runs out, and I know certain death is imminent…it is in that moment that Jesus reaches up from underneath me and supports me, and pushes me out of the deep water, and into the fresh air. He holds me up there, treading the waters himself all the while, so I can breathe. I can rest into Him. I can succumb to my weakness and His strength.
Why would my Jesus who I continually fail do this for me?
And here is the answer- simple yet profound. Because He loves ME.
Leaning into Jesus when my strength fails is exactly what He expects and wants from me. He wants me to find the edge of me and my strength, so that I can find the beginning of his strength.
It is in these times that I can learn exactly who Jesus is. I can begin to comprehend how He loves me, whether or not I understand the ” why” behind His love. I can learn what true “rest” is.
You see, God tells us ” I will never leave you or forsake you” ( Deuteronomy 31:6), Never. Its a concept that we can only know to our human limits, and God carries out to eternal limits. He is always there. In the deepest, darkest moments. In the happiest moments. In every moment in between. God is there, with me and beside me.
So Why does a loving God allow me to go through those deep, dark times? those times where it seems death would be more merciful than life? I am sure there are so many more reasons, but the ones that come to my mind are these:
To teach us to depend on Him and Him alone.
To carry us through, so that when this storm of life is over, we can tell others how we survived, and point them to Jesus.
To prove His constant and unfailing love to us.
To teach us about hope. A hope that is from Him and is most constant in the distant and treacherous moments in life. Even if we don’t see it, he allows hope to infiltrate the depths of out heart in ways we may not understand at the time.
Our challenges in life, especially the ones that take us through the “deep waters” are rarely fun. In fact they are most often the opposite of fun. Challenging. Painful. Anger invoking. Unexpected.
But if we make the choice to see them as an opportunity rather than a burden, then maybe we can grow in ways that we didn’t know we needed to. We can grow in ways we didn’t think possible. We can grow in ways we never would have without this “deep water test”. Maybe God gives us an opportunity to walk through these deep waters so that one day we can help others walk through their own deep waters.
Isaiah 43:1-3 is one of my favorite verses, and one that God has used to impact me recently, especially through my own “deep water” journey. It says:
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (NLT)
God is there. All the time. In every circumstance. For Me. With me. Beside me. Above me. Below me. Carrying me thorough the storm…Because I am His child and he loves me.
I can choose to believe this, or not; however, the truth remains the same. God is near especially in the times of our “deep water tests”.
We have a choice. We can choose to struggle and rely on our own strength, knowing we may fail. Or, we can choose to let ourselves rest into Him, and let Him carry us through, knowing with absolute certainty, that we will succeed in Him. Maybe not in the way we expected, or even wanted to; but we will succeed in the way He wants us to. And, to me, that’s even better.
To simplify it all, when you are in the “deep end”, You can choose to “depend” on God, or “depend” on yourself.