When I was first learning about the ocean, my dad would take me and my sister out with him. The two of us, one on each hip. We'd watch in amazement how he just kept walking through the crashing waves. We'd squeal, he'd jump and we'd be on the other side of the wave. He wanted to show us how just beyond the first break of waves, the waters calm down. It's lake-like. We'd float for a bit and then he'd tell us it's time to go further. With surprised looks on our faces, and hearts full of trust for our dad we'd wrap our arms tight around him and explore deeper. I remember some hard conversations. The two of us young girls not wanting to go further and my dad in an attempt to help us overcome our fears would encourage us along. I remember the day we went to the point where he couldn't touch. He was treading water. It was an amazing moment. Not one of us drowned.
My childhood memory reminds me of Jesus calling Peter out onto the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus invites Peter into deeper waters to explore what he hadn't seen before. Peter learns, as do we, that it is all about trust.
This year my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It's taken an emotional toll on me and my family. And it's certainly taken lots of time for me to feel like I can process it, much less write about it.
In a lot of ways my mom is the emotional bedrock of my family. She is a professional juggler of both family and church needs. It's pretty amazing just how many people my mom can keep track of and love.
When we stepped deeper into the reality of her illness, roles had to shift...and trust had to be reworked. It feels to me like Jesus is inviting me into deeper waters and I am terrified. Whose feet exactly can touch the ground? My family and friends close to mom have had to dig deep within ourselves to find something bigger to trust. Something big enough to overcome our fears of falling in. For me, it's Jesus.
I am sad about my mom's illness. Sad about how cancer is fighting her and sad about how the treatments are fighting her. I'm sad when I see how hard she fights to still be our mom or my dad's partner or my grandmother's daughter or my aunt and uncle's sister. Somehow she musters up the energy each day to walk a little deeper into the waters. For herself, but also for us.
I feel Jesus beckoning me into deeper waters with him and I'm convinced I'm still treading water where I am. I trust deep down, like I trusted my dad, that we'll be ok. That Jesus won't let me slip under. That I'll be amazed looking back at how we all stay afloat. But, I'm still terrified. Still watching the big crashing waves with fear and awe. Still holding tight to Jesus as we pass through each wave and come to the other side.
We don't get a choice if we experience rifts and currents in life, but we do choose how we ride them. When we risk some movement through the breaking waves, we can sometimes find calm and peace on the other side. With some intentional trust, we can lean back and float for a while. We won't sink down. Trusting even in the deep waters, we can rest here for a bit.
Jesus does this. He takes us to deeper waters. But he is trustworthy. He'll be there with us. Ready to catch our hand when we begin to sink. Ready to move us to a more restful spot before we begin deeper again.