Waist Deep

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It’s that moment.

I’m standing waist high in the ocean..mere feet from shore, with my feet planted. For the longest moment I stand, face lifted upwards, the glow of the sun feeding my weary soul. I could stay here forever, basking in the peace of its rays, but just as I get comfortable, inhaling the ocean scent as I watch the gulls lite upon the shore, I hear the roar rising up behind me, the crash of the crest of the wave as it barrels toward me, and in that moment, I have a choice – dig my feet in the sand and brace for the impact or run.

Somehow I know if I move I will be overtaken, sucked under, swept up in the mighty wave never to find that spot on the ocean floor again. The sound of the crested wave crashes toward me, and I stand still, arms outstretched, legs locked, awaiting the connection of body of water and body of soul.

I’m unprepared for the fullness of the tumult, but my feet stand firm, refusing my knees the freedom to buckle. As the wave pushes me forward I find the strength to push back, against it’s current, against the pull to push me forward and back toward the shoreline I worked hard to get past. I close my eyes as the wave personified fist pummels my back, challenging my position, doing it’s best to defy my resolve.

If I’m honest, it hurts.

I think within my mind that is made of mere common sense that I could be safely on the shore riding this wave instead of fighting it, but the Voice that echoes peaceful “stand still” assures my mind that isn’t bound by fear that the best is yet to come.

All at once the wave breaks completely, stillness once again flows, and shaking the wet assault from my hair and face, I open my eyes. The sun still shines bright, the advance of the Oceans arms around me never blocked it’s rays, only my feeling of them, and the Voice that held me firm, beckons, “Deeper.” And I find my footing gained and take a step forward before the next strong current has me again longing to run back to shore. Because though the shore may be safe, life is found in the wrestle with the waves.

Psalm 93:3-4
“The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the Lord on high is mighty!”

School Daze

Like most parents in The South, last week my kids went back to school. My youngest began her last year of elementary school (I cannot truly be this old!) and my oldest began her seventh grade year. It seems like yesterday I held her in my arms for the first time in relief that the nausea and vomiting of the last 9 months was over and the fun had begun! What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t the pain of contractions, the pushing or the final clip of the umbilical cord that marked the end if labor… It was only the beginning.

I remember gently rubbing my bulging belly and hurrying the day when she would arrive – to see her face, to count her fingers, to watch her breathe and not just feel her move. I rushed those months in between trips to the porcelain throne to pray. When I started with contractions early, I obediently followed the doctors orders that I rest, stay off my feet, pretty much just get up to go to the bathroom. “Rest,” he said, “and don’t worry… You’ve have plenty of time to worry after she is born.”

I don’t think I really paid attention to that comment until the first night we were home, and her sleeping was so quiet I had to watch her back to make sure she was still breathing. Or the first time I heard her choke and cried for 30 minutes thinking of what might have happened if I hadn’t been there. The night she stuck a crayon up her nasal cavity, I envisioned how we would explain the bulge in her nose when she was older because that baby wasn’t going to let me help her get it out! Or the time she was playing with her daddy’s pocket knife and sliced her finger… That first sight of blood, from an injury… I thought I would faint – not from the sight of blood but from the knowledge that I hadn’t been attentive enough, I hadn’t guarded her enough and she was hurt because of my neglect.

I thought those were the rough days, until we experienced loss of friendship, abandonment, bullying, and heartache and disappointment, and those days have just begun, and I find myself wanting to scoop her up, open my womb again and tuck her back in… Safely, because the world is just too unpredictable and I can’t guard her from the perils or the problems.

But in those moments, I have to take a deep breath. I have to remember the words of Daddy God to me in some of those fearful moments when she was a baby, “Where your eyes cannot see, Mine keep watch. Where your hand fails to reach, Mine never leaves.” Those have been His words of comfort to me for years, and I cling to them!

Not just for my babies… But for myself. Life is unpredictable and full of uncertainties. Just when we think we have it figured out, everything changes. I once heard, “The only thing that never changes is that things always change.” It’s true. The more I live and experience and gain and lose the more this simple silly quote makes a world of sense.

Truth be told, I hate it. It leaves me dazed. I can adjust, but I don’t want to. It’s like this common thread in my life that screams, “Don’t get comfortable, it won’t be this way for long.” And still, like a fool, like a naive child, I forget and I allow myself to dream and believe only to watch it all change, again.

In those moments, just like with my baby girls, I have only One constant. One voice that can soothe me and remind me that where I cannot see, He has already charted a path, and where my hand is unable to reach, His is already there. And, I rely on that. I cling to it! Because as much as I’d like to build a cocoon around us and stay there safely tucked beside my Saviour’s breast sheltered and safe, life requires me to live apart from that haven for now to face and walk among the hurting, dying, and broken that might not understand a parent’s heart, that may have never felt protected, appreciated, encouraged, or loved. He requires of me to die today so I might live with Him forever, and that is anything but comfortable! But, I have a choice I can learn or I can sleep. I can roll back over making my own cocoon of comfort and denial and pretend like the Teacher isn’t calling my name, or I can sit at a desk right up front, pencil in hand ready to take notes, and learn all I can.

School is back in session, and I’m still a student.

Touchable God

I remember the first time I heard about the intimacy of Christ. I was sitting in a pew in a tiny Southern Baptist Church at a revival no less. The preacher was talking and I was doodling until God pricked my ears. It was like I knew I needed to pay attention. I had missed the first part of the story, something about a man and he was “simple” and he had been invited to stay at the pastor’s home…but it was this part that changed my life forever:

It wasn’t long after we had headed off to bed, and my wife and I heard commotion coming from the guest room. Our guest was obviously talking to himself, and periodically we would hear the furniture move. My wife was nervous and asked me to check things out. As I got closer to the door, it sounded like the man was in an argument with himself. Literally fighting. Icould hear him on the floor moving around, and the more I lessoned the more I wondered at this man I had invited into our home. Hearing a chair fall and what I wasn’t sure was either laughter or groaning, I resolved that he must surely be mad. With gusto I opened the door prepared for whatever I might see, but this…this large, tall, full grown older man, curled up in a ball, laughing uncontrollably. I just stared for a minute until he said, “I’m sorry, did we bother you?” I looked around – “we” was there someone else there? He picked himself up and righted the chair and said, “Jesus and I were wrestling, and he pinned me.”

Honestly, I have no clue what else the pastor said, how he addressed that situation, or how it ended. I watched other people’s faces. Their awe and disbelief, and the few that muttered, “Bless his simple heart.” And everyone laughed. But I wasn’t buying it. I loved that story. In fact, it thrilled me! To know that I had a Savior that would not only take my sin upon Himself so that I might live but would also wrestle a grown man to laughter?! This was beautiful. I wrapped my thirteen year old heart around that nugget and treasured it as Truth – God was not only loving, but He was touchable.

I need a touchable God. If we are honest, we all do. But it’s strange, isn’t it? People who feel Him and wrestle with Him and dance with Him are strange. Ahhh. The blessing of the simple. It is in simplicity that God meets us. I love His word that says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” We see because we believe. We believe because we know, and we know because we Trust.

He is touchable.

Where do you need Him to touch you? Now is not the time to be shy or ashamed. Now is the time to look for Daddy God in the place you need Him most. Where is that place? Let go of all preconceived notions and every “appropriate interaction.” Cast aside all fear of what others think and get real with God. Only you know what that looks like. It could be a wrestle, it could be a kiss, it could be a duet, it could be a dance, it could be ANY activity that frees your heart before Daddy God and feels His love and His willingness. Bear witness to that Truth, hide it in your heart and feel it for yourself – God not only loves us, but He is very touchable.

We just have to let go and reach out.

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