Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Deep and the Shallow: Lessons from the Ocean

I haven't had a chance to share much about our trip to the beach the week before last. Few times have I been so grateful for such a sweet getaway. I was grateful because this time last year we drained our savings living in Guatemala trying to make progress on our adoption and trying to make memories with Daniel. We were two years into our adoption and just broken that we still didn't have him home.

So to have him with us--seeing him dive in the waves,

build sand castles,

search for shells and laugh with his siblings.

Well . . . it was a beautiful sight.

Some people are beach people. Some mountain people. Some country people, some city people. I think Daniel is definitely a beach person. It's like the air and water and sand renewed his spirit. And watching him renewed mine.

So grateful for my precious girls.

And my precious boys.

I occasionally write about lessons gleaned from everyday life. One about God's love for us is here. Another about trying to understand why sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers the way we want Him to is here. (Others can be found under the sidebar label "Lessons from the . . . ".)

Today, I thought I'd share some thoughts about how trials in our life are like the ocean.

There have been hard times in my life that I have felt like I was swept into the deepest part of the sea. It can be petrifying to look around and see nothing but miles of endless ocean. You don't know which way to swim, which direction might lead you to land. You stay afloat as best you can, sometimes with arms and legs paddling feverishly to keep you from drowning. Other times just lying on your back floating in surrender--trying to find rest . . . about to lose hope. One of the worst things about being in the depths of the ocean is that you don't know what is lurking beneath. Knowing at any moment you could be eaten by a shark or another predator.

There's also overwhelming loneliness. The water is eerily calm and at times dangerously cold. Hopeless thoughts begin to surface. Is there anyone who knows I'm even here? Is there anyone who is going to rescue me?

I've been in the deepest part of that ocean--with the loss of our first baby boy and then the loss of my mom (that story is here). But I know many of you have probably experienced depths of the sea that I can't imagine.

It can also be dangerous close to the shore. Even when the water is shallow enough to stand in, sometimes the waves can be overwhelming. You run to the safety of the beach as fast as you can, only to be swept by the undertow and beaten by crashing waves.

There are people on the shore oblivious to your plight. You might even be embarrassed that the ocean has yanked down your bathing suit and filled every crack and crevice with sand. You try to compose yourself so no one will know that you are hurting or in distress. You finally get your footing only to be hit by another wave.

I've been there, too. I've been hit with financial problems, adoption ordeals, friendship hurts, parenting struggles, health issues. Yes, it's shallow enough to wade through the depth of these problems, yet trials close to the shore are just as hard and often just as fatal as the ones in the middle of the ocean.

While in the deepest ocean, I had full prayer support--a lot of people sending S.O.S.'s to the Almighty Coast Guard on our behalf. But in the shallow waters I was often too prideful to let others know I was in trouble--too embarrassed to let others know I needed help. I often thought my request was unimportant in light of others who were in their own deep blue seas. Sometimes others don't understand how hard a situation can be when the pain only rises a few feet--few understand that we don't have to be in over our heads to drown.

So I guess this life lesson is twofold. One, to remember that God is with us when we feel the vastness of the sea will swallow us whole. When it seems rescue will never come and drowning is inevitable. And two, that sometimes our greatest struggles will be close to the shore. And we need not be too prideful to cry for help--to God and to the body of Christ.

It is also a reminder for me to not only try to help those deep in trial, but to also look for those who are being beaten by crashing waves in the shallow water.

I will always remember His faithfulness when the high tide washed ashore taking me to places I couldn't survive without His mercy. It is by God's grace I stand on the shore right now, celebrating His goodness.

So Grateful,


Angela said...

One, to remember that God is with us when we feel the vastness of the sea will swallow us whole. When it seems rescue will never come and drowning is inevitable. And two, that sometimes our greatest struggles will be close to the shore. And we need not be too prideful to cry for help--to God and to the body of Christ.

SIGH..I NEEDED this right now at this very moment. ((hugs))

Sara said...

oh the ocean has taught me much. If God isn't love then the ocean is dry.

Delighted to meet you today. I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a delightful spot to slip off my shoes and drench myself in goodness.


Karen said...

Wow. I'm almost speechless after reading that. So well written. Thank you for a beautiful post.

Kristin Ferguson said...

Kathie, you are so right about the shallow end. We spend most of our lives in that end and we needlessly try to get to shore by ourselves! Why don't we ask for prayer for the things that seem to small to bother people with--God cares so I know His people will care too! One of my biggest prayer requests for this adoption may have seemed small to others but it was definitely my shallow end prayer--that Nadia would be a good sleeper. I'm terribly weak and vulnerable when I'm not feeling rested and so this was HUGE to me but almost seemed silly to ask for prayer about...but I did--thank God! So far, she is a fabulous sleeper! Good thing too because this Mama has had quite a cold the last few days and those hours of uninterrupted sleep have done much to help me recover! Thank God for answers to those shallow end prayers and thank you for reminding us to reach out to others not just when we're in the deep waters!


Jody said...

Thank you, Kathie.

trustandobey said...

Hi Kathie,
Another insightful post. Who cannot relate to this? I know full well that God uses our times in the ocean to grow us up, to push us to reach for Him, to give us examples of His faithfulness to reflect on, to exemplify His promises, to (ironically)lavish grace and mercy upon us, as well as for many more reasons but, gosh, it is often SO hard. Sometimes I wish we could grow up (spiritually) another way!!!
Won't it be a wonderful day when every tear is washed away...no more struggles or storms...no more fear and floundering...only the Body of Christ splashing about on the shores of the glassy sea....
Thank you for this reminder to keep it real with one another.
ps-Daniel looks so happy! Kate loves the beach too. It is almost like these kids have salt water running through their veins.

Shanny said...

So happy to have found your blog through Stephanie at Ni Hao Y'All. Your words touched me deeply. Thanks for sharing your heart. It's beautiful!!

A family being transformed said...

What a beautiful bunch the Lord has given you, so far :-)

Thanks so much for your encouraging and edifying comments.

You are right, through my experience of severe bondage, the Lord has blessed me with the humble gift of discernment.

Hugs from the North,