Deep Waters

Punxsutawney Area School District swimming pool

Read and reflect on Isaiah 43:1–7.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

The first couple of times I jumped off the low diving board at the local swimming pool, I landed on the sloped side near the ladder, so I didn’t think it was a problem that I couldn’t swim.

A teenage girl wants to do the things her friends are doing, right? And I was tired of playing it safe in the shallow water while everyone else was having a blast in the deep end of the pool. Back then I didn’t even know how to tread water. The only thing I knew how to do was the dead man’s float.

“How hard could it be?” I thought as I watched the others splashing off the diving board that long ago summer day. All I had to do was hop off the side so I landed on the slope near the ladder. So I swallowed my trepidation and took my place in line.

My strategy worked twice. The third time, however, I plunged into waters above my head.

I don’t remember how many times I bobbed to the surface, panicked and thrashing, my short life passing before my closed eyes. Then strong arms pulled me to safety. As I sat on the concrete beside the crowded pool, gasping and trembling, a lifelong fear was born.

For five decades, deep water terrified me. My kids all learned to swim, no thanks to me. When we went swimming, I stayed in the shallow water. When we went boating, I made sure I had a life vest strapped on tight.

Then my son, who lived next door, bought an above-ground pool. Hot summer days found me cooling off in sun-warmed water that only came up to my neck. I learned to tread water and to propel myself beneath the surface. I practiced floating and splashed from one side of the pool to the other. As long as I could touch bottom (and my head was above the water), I was fine.

Maybe that long, cold winter six years ago made me stir crazy, because I bought a pass for the indoor pool at the local school and began swimming lessons. By December, I told myself, I’d swim from one end of the pool to the other.

At the end of my second lesson, though, I met that goal, swimming on my back, my instructor beside me every stroke of the way.

“You’re doing fine,” she’d say. “Just a little farther.”

And so I kept going—swimming in 12 feet of water—something I didn’t think I’d do for a long time. But I couldn’t have done it without my instructor there beside me, encouraging me, giving me confidence with her presence.

It’s the same way with my swim through life.

When I must navigate deep waters, I’m not alone. My Instructor is beside me, encouraging me, ready to pull me out should I go under. His presence gives me the confidence I need to push on, just a little farther, stroke by stroke, until I finally reach the other side.

Thank you, Father God, that You never leave me or forsake me—even when I get in over my head. Amen.

Read and reflect on Isaiah 43:1–7.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Happy Endings

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and End.  —Revelation 22:13 NIV

“Mom, you’re not reading the ending of that book first, are you?” my daughter asked me one day while I was reading.

“Yes, I am,” I said. “I want to make sure the ending is to my liking. This way I don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t have a happy ending.”

A voracious reader since I could open a book, I can’t remember when I started checking out story endings first. But as an adult, I read the first chapters, and, if the book holds my attention and I just can’t stand the suspense—which is most of the time—I flip to the back and skim the last few pages. I find out if the heroine gets the man she loves, who the villain is, and if the story has a happy conclusion.

Many times I’ve started a book but haven’t finished it because I didn’t like the way it ended. While I can take bittersweet endings, I dislike sad ones. There’s enough trouble in the world. I read to escape from the ugliness of humanity, the dire headlines, the bad news that bombards me all day long.

Even worse than sad endings, though, are “open” endings, where the reader decides how a story concludes. How wishy-washy! I need to feel a sense of closure that the story has come to full circle and is complete. An open ending isn’t really an ending; rather, it’s just a gaping hole where the reader is never satisfied—at least this reader.

Not that I live with my head in the sand or the clouds, and I certainly don’t live a storybook, fairytale life. I’ve got problems too. Reading is my oasis in this desert of bad news. Just for a little while, I can forget the headlines, the heartaches, the dishes, and the dust and immerse myself in something I know will end happily.

There’s another Book I enjoy reading with an ending that fulfills all my expectations, gives me hope, and satisfies my soul: the Bible, God’s Word. Reading it, however, is not an escape from ugly humanity. Instead, I see humanity at its worst. I also see in its time-tested lines the love of the Writer for the ones who rebelled and caused Him and the world so much grief. In the chapter on Calvary, I see God at His best.

But the story doesn’t end at Calvary, or on the first Easter, or on Ascension Day or Pentecost. It doesn’t end with the killing of Stephen or the martyrdom of those first believers. It continues for centuries that stretch into millennia.

And it isn’t a mystery. Rather, the Bible is a love story of a great and merciful God for His sinful, rebellious, obnoxious, selfish, stubborn creation. Penned throughout the saga of mankind are definite clues how this tale will end: The heroine gets the One she loves, the villain is defeated and banished forever, and those who trust in the One who came to save them live happily ever after.

Thank You, Lord, for showing me who the winners are in the drama of man. Thank You for revealing the ending so I may find satisfaction and fulfillment in my life’s story. Amen.

Read and reflect on Revelation 21 & 22.

From God, Me,& a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God, (c) 2017 Michele Huey.