~these are the days of learning to embrace the waves~
I don’t quite know what it is about being at the beach that can make you see your own smallness so much more clearly. Maybe it’s standing on the shore and seeing the grandness of the ocean. Maybe it’s seeing the vast array of stars above the ocean or watching the sun peek above the ocean’s horizon. Maybe it’s comparing eternity with the grains of sand. Maybe it’s reminding yourself that God really did create it all.
A little over a year ago, I stood on the shore of this same beach and wrote these words:
When you pray, you should mean it. And when you ask God for something, expect He’s going to answer you. Probably not in your timing or in the way you expect or sometimes in the way you want. But He answers. After I quit my job about a year and a half ago, the song Oceans was near and dear to my heart (give a holla’ hillsong fans). And not only did I sing that song, I prayed it, and meant every word. I felt like it was written just for me, you know? “You called me out upon the water…the great unknown…my feet may fail.” I knew leaving my job was an act of obedience, a leap of faith, a move several years in the making where my flesh had to catch up to what my spirit knew. And then comes the other part I prayed. ” Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me…take me deeper than my feet would ever wander…and my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” Well God has answered that prayer again and again, taking me deeper than my flesh wants to go. My toes keep scraping the bottom of the ocean, trying to cling to what makes sense, to what’s safe, to what’s comfortable. But faith doesn’t always make sense, feel safe, or feel comfortable. But it drives me to my knees in surrender. It forces me to go deeper than I wanted. It’s letting down the walls of what I thought trusting God looks like. Sometimes I want Him to stop and say, deep enough my child. But I don’t know when that will be. So I’m letting my toes off the sand, letting Him take my hand, and clinging to Him as deep as He chooses to go.
I think when I wrote those words, I really did think we were in deep. That God wasn’t going to take us any deeper in this walk of faith and that soon, things were going to change. Little did I know that at that point, I was still wading. I didn’t know that the year that followed would hold new circumstances I didn’t know how to handle: an unexplained and hurtful job loss, unemployment checks, unpaid bills, mounting credit card debt. And while I could see God’s hand of provision and He continued to teach me about obedience and faith, I was slowly weakening. I felt that I was losing faith. Despite all that I believed to be true, I wasn’t clinging to God’s promises. I was believing the lies. That perhaps we did the wrong thing, that perhaps God had forgotten us, that perhaps I didn’t really want to know Him more, that perhaps my faith really wasn’t all that strong. And worst of all, that perhaps His love for me wasn’t as great as I once believed. And this coming from someone who understands her identity and knows that it was all lies.
I felt we had reached this turning point of our journey. That we were either going to go back to Egypt, so to speak, or stand at the edge of the Red Sea and trust God was going to part it for us. I know that worship and reading God’s word would remind me of His truths and that was the only thing that was helping me stay afloat.
A week or so before leaving for the beach, I felt God whispering to me to “embrace the waves.” Let me clarify by saying the way I hear God’s voice isn’t audible or even a real whisper. It’s something that I feel inside of me that I can’t ignore. It will stick with me until I respond. It will keep coming back to me. I wrote this phrase down but didn’t really think much about it because let’s be honest, I had 134 other things to do that week to get ready to leave.
Fast forward to today, when I was watching my oldest daughter learning to jump through the waves. We’re here with friends and their daughter is good friends with my daughter. This friend is a real feisty fish in the water. She was trying to show Eliana how to dive into the waves. She was pretty good at it. Eliana would watch, but she kept belly-flopping the waves, rather than going through them.
Let me tell you that I’m not a jumping-through-the-waves kind of beach person. I’m more of a sit-on-a-chair-and-read kind of beach person. Or a stand-in-ankle-or-knee-deep-water-and-watch-the-kids-enjoy-the-waves kind of beach person. I was doing the latter while the girls were in the water. I could tell my daughter was a bit like me. A little healthy fear of getting knocked around by the waves (small waves, by the way, I wouldn’t trust myself with them and a rough ocean).
I could tell Eliana was frustrated, so I simply said, “You’re putting your body in first, El. Put your head in first, like you’re diving. Your head needs to go under the wave.”
And just like that, I heard, “embrace the waves.” And suddenly. This wave of knowing crashed over me. And it was so clear that I couldn’t believe I had missed it after all this time.
I was afraid to put my head in the water.
I often told people that I feel like I am just barely keeping my head above the water (I know many people feel the same way, maybe even you, dear reader). That I was willing to let God take me deep into this faith walk and I didn’t really like that I couldn’t touch the ground, but I trusted Him. As much as I hated to admit it, I had been giving into fear a little. Fear of the “what-ifs.” So many what-ifs. And lately, the fear of just not knowing what to do next.
After all this time, it dawned on me that I was trying so hard to keep my head above the waves, that I wasn’t really trusting God. I thought I was. Really and truly. But the fact that I just didn’t want to get entirely wet, was the sign that I hadn’t completely surrendered. I still wanted things in my way and my time. I wanted to go deep and grow in faith and trust but without giving up myself entirely. I wanted faith, but I wanted it easy too.
You can’t have total faith and partial surrender. They don’t go hand-in-hand.
I was still relying on my own strength to keep my head up, rather than trusting Him even if the waves crash. Even if all the “what-ifs” come true. Even if I find that I’m drowning.
I don’t need to be strong to keep my head up. He’s there. He’ll hold me up. He won’t let me drown. He calmed the waves and the storm with a word. (think about that, seriously!) He is my strength. I often feel this need to be strong in my faith because I know so many people are watching. Waiting. Wondering if God will come through.
And that is my problem. As much as I thought I was making it about Him, I was really making it about me.
I know that I feel called to live my life a little differently than others. I’m tired of what’s normal and accepted.The redundancy of it all is a little tiring to me. I feel like God has given me new ideas and dreams and I feel a little crushed by the “what-ifs” of it all. But I feel like the timing of it all is ordained in a way. Because my current life needs total surrender and these future dreams do as well. Everything in life requires surrender.
So I can’t say right now that I know what total surrender looks like. I thought I did. I thought I had surrendered. But I’m ready to embrace the waves. I’m ready to know what that looks like. It might mean a lot of failure. It might mean staying under the waves and gulping for air.
But it also might mean breakthrough. Real, true breakthrough.
I don’t want to move from this season of life into the next season unchanged. To think that all I’ve learned and how I’ve grown was really for nothing. I don’t want to come to the end of this season and realize I didn’t grow in perseverance and come out with rock-steady faith. I want to live this life as the adventure that is is. I want to embrace the waves and the wild ride that comes with faith. Hardships and beauty and hope and God’s goodness in trials and celebrations. That’s what I want in this season and the next.
I will keep praying that He will take me deeper. But this time, I realize my head might get wet. And I’m okay with that.
What do “these days” look like for you. Simply comment with one…these are the days of…
**If you want to check out the rest of my #write31days series, you can find the link here.