When You Pass Through the Waters


“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.” – Isaiah 43:2a

The water is almost still this morning

A glassy green

And flecked with foam


The houses on the other side of the lake

Like always

Look like tiny toys no bigger than my thumb

I wonder what this area looked like hundreds of years ago

When the canals and locks were still in use

The water a way of moving cargo

Not just a pretty view


I wonder how long it would take me to swim to the other side

Too long

I would drown if I tried

Though it doesn’t look that far

My arms and legs are not conditioned for the task

Every year someone drowns on one of these lakes

Gentle as they are

Too young to swim or caught in seaweed or a rough wind

A boat overturned unexpectedly

The locals know one should always wear a life vest

No matter the conditions

No one swims alone at the cottage too

For that very reason

Water is unpredictable

And wilder than it looks


Interesting things

Life vests

Only there if you need them


Yet rarely needed

Odd how something can be so critical

Yet rarely needed

But when they are needed

It is a matter of life and death

And you have to put it on

Every single time you are on the water


I wonder how many people have forgotten their vests

Or thought they wouldn’t need them

Just this one time

Only to be caught in an overturned sailboat

Trying to keep their heads above water


That’s what I’ve been doing

These past months

Trying to keep my head above water

Having my students as close as a mouse click

Yet so far away


Yet unable to connect


Some of us seem to be swimming along

Paddling in the shallows

Others are in the deep end

And losing strength fast

Which brings me back to the life vest

Even if the boat goes down

The life vest brings you up

Keeping you from drowning


I wonder if God’s truth is a little like a life vest

I know the metaphor breaks down

Since it is important in the small things too

The daily moments

And every small decision

Not just when we are facing an issue of life or death

But especially important when we our boat has overturned

And we are facing rough seas


The power of positive thinking

Is not enough

Like wearing a colorful vest made of cotton

Unable to float

When troubles assail

You sink right to the bottom


Not even thankfulness

Makes for a good life vest

It helps you see the water is not as deep as you may have feared

But it doesn’t save you


Your own strength won’t save you

Even the strongest swimmers drown in a riptide

And if 2020 hasn’t felt like a riptide

I don’t know what has.


Only something that will lift you up

That can float and carry the weight of your body

That is snug and will stay on in a storm

Only that will save you from the rushing waters

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

God’s Word is a little like that

A hedge of protection

Enabling me to swim further out

Than I otherwise would have

Further than my own strength allows

Without fear

I need to put it on every day

Renewing my mind in the constant war

Against the culture’s way of thinking and the sin that so easily entangles

Choosing hope over despair

Love over disdain

And joy over sorrow

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24


And when the storm comes

Or the boat sinks

Because it will

I will float securely

In the ocean of God’s grace

“The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.” – Psalm 121:7-8

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