Isaiah 43:2, 3
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior. (The Message)
When I was sixteen, I took an advanced lifesaving class. My swim lessons the summers before led up to this level, and my parents insisted I take (and pass) all the courses offered. My dad never learned to swim, so he didn’t want me to repeat the generational tendency toward the fear of water.
To pass the course, I had to dive off the high board and swim to save the person pretending to be drowning in a certain amount of seconds. I was a fast swimmer and had mastered the saving techniques, but I never dove off that high of a board before.
I had jumped, but that was different.
Jumping left me in an upright position the whole time. Diving from that height terrified me. I’d seen too many people do belly flops and exclaim, “That hurt!”
Who wants to hurt?
The week before the test, I avoided practicing the dive like I avoided the boys who teased me about my under-developed body. (I was less than a hundred pounds and looked like a ten-year-old.) Just walking by the apparatus, knowing I’d soon have to dive from it, got my stomach tied up in knots.
Finally, the day came when my instructors wouldn’t let me chicken out. They forced me up the ladder and started counting down from three.
When they hit the count of one, I flung myself towards the water, slightly belly-flopped, and made it to the swimmer to save them just in the nick of the required time.
That feeling of being overwhelmed (and wondering if I’d drown when I hit the water) stayed with me for quite awhile, though. In fact, I never dove off the high board again. I loved diving off low ones, but never high ones.
Truth be told, the outcome never matched my fears.
I didn’t drown or snap my neck, and I was able to handle what I needed to do. Being overwhelmed was completely based on my emotions, yet affected me physically. I was so worked up I was trembling.
Life can be a lot like that high dive experience.
We feel pressed by outside forces, we get fearful over what we cannot control, or we’re just overwhelmed in general. We suffer physically, and what if’s plague our thoughts as we struggle to find God in our anxiety.
But God is with us no matter what.
In fact, He makes no distinction as to what He’ll help us through. Whether our fears are justified or complete mind games, He is with us in every one.
Every. Single. One.
And another truth I’ve experienced?
Nothing is a dead end when God is on the scene. He’s like a constant rerouting GPS unit. He works with the decisions we make to get us where there’s abundant life. Always.
“Because I am God, your personal God,” Isaiah says.
So when He counts down from three, we can jump.
He’ll be the one catching us.
And that’s a wonderful thought.