Sunday, February 22, 2015

When in deep water ...

Punxsutawney Area Middle School swimming pool, where I'm learning to swim

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. – Isaiah 43:2 NIV
The first couple of times I jumped off the low diving board at the local swimming pool, I landed on the sloped side near the ladder, so I didn’t think it was a problem that I couldn’t swim.
A teenage girl wants to do the things her friends are doing, right? And I was tired of playing it safe in the shallow water while everyone else was having a blast in the deep end of the pool. Back then I didn’t even know how to tread water. The only thing I knew how to do was the dead man’s float.
“How hard could it be?” I thought as I watched the others splashing off the diving board that long ago summer day. All I had to do was hop off the side so I landed on the slope near the ladder. So I swallowed my trepidation and took my place in line.
My strategy worked twice. The third time, however, I plunged into waters above my head.
I don’t remember how many times I bobbed to the surface, panicked and thrashing, my short life passing before my closed eyes. Then strong arms pulled me to safety. As I sat on the concrete beside the crowded pool, gasping and trembling, a lifelong fear was born.
For five decades, deep water terrified me. My kids all learned to swim, no thanks to me. When we went swimming, I stayed in the shallow water. When we went boating, I made sure I had a life vest strapped on tight.
Then my son and daughter-in-law bought an above-ground pool. Hot summer days found me cooling off in sun-warmed water that only came up to my neck. I learned to tread water and to propel myself beneath the surface. I practiced floating and splashed from one side of the pool to the other. As long as I could touch bottom (and my head was above the water), I was fine.
Maybe this long, cold winter made me stir crazy, but earlier this month I bought a pass for the indoor pool at the local middle school and began swimming lessons. By December, I told myself, I’d swim from one end of the pool to the other.
Last week, at the end of my second lesson, I met that goal, swimming on my back, my instructor beside me every stroke of the way.
“You’re doing fine,” she’d say. “Just a little farther.”
And so I kept going—swimming in 12 feet of water—something I didn’t think I’d do for a long time. But I couldn’t have done it without my instructor there beside me, encouraging me, giving me confidence with her presence.
It’s the same way with my swim through life.
When I must navigate deep waters, I’m not alone. My Instructor is beside me, encouraging me, ready to pull me out should I go under. His presence gives me the confidence I need to push on, just a little farther, stroke by stroke, until I finally reach the other side.
Thank you, Father God, that You never leave me or forsake me—even when I get in over my head. Amen.

More tea: Read Isaiah 43:1–7

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