When I was a kid I spent a lot of time at Ocala’s premier water park Wild Waters. Oh yeah, Ocala has it all. We even have TWO Wal-Marts!
Anyways, like most of the other kids in the park, I’d drop whatever I was doing or leave whatever line I was in and run as fast as I could (or walk safely if a lifeguard was around) to get to the wave pool whenever I heard that it was time for the “Wild Waters Waves!” A big, booming voice would come on every hour and announce that the once still waters of the giant wave pool were about to… well… wave. And I’m talking massive waves! The kind that could sink ships! It was always exciting.
On one particular wave experience, I turned out to not be as excited as I usually was. I don’t know if it was a bad corndog, too much energy spent from running all over the park, or if I was just too overcome with excitement, but for some reason these waves seemed a bit bigger than they were any other time before. And somehow I had gotten out into the middle of the wave pool and didn’t even have a raft.
The waves kept coming. Each one fiercer than the last. I found myself losing all of the energy I had once before had. With every second that passed it became harder and harder to stay afloat. My head kept going underwater and by the time I had kicked myself up enough to catch my breath I would start sinking again. There I was, an eight-year-old kid coming closer than ever before to what I knew of death.
At one point, I looked to the right and saw a girl around my same age floating on a tube with her dad swimming right next to her. In an act of desperation I reached out and grabbed onto her tube so that I could keep above water. And then, suddenly, the girl looked back at me and into my eyes… and she gave me the weirdest look I’d ever seen someone give me. Perhaps that was the first weird look from a girl I had ever gotten; I should have known right then that I would live a life constantly filled with many more.
After that girl stared into my soul and annihilated my self-esteem, I decided to let go of her floatation device. Apparently I would have rather died than take a look like that from a woman. (Nowadays I kind of embrace them; perhaps I am numb to them?)
As I tried my best to survive in those wild waters, completely exhausted and with shattered confidence, I prayed to God every second for the waves to stop. Finally they did. And thankfully, I did not die.
Years later, I still feel like I am in the same place as that awkward boy in the wave pool. Not really getting anywhere. Not really swimming. Just treading water. Trying not to die. So much effort spent on kicking and paddling as hard as my feet and arms can, but going nowhere. Just treading water.
The Psalmist, that boy, and now this man all pray the same thing:
“Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths where there is no foothold. I have come into deep waters; the floods engulf me.” (Psalm 69:1-2)
It’s a frustrating place to be, especially when one of my greatest fears is wasting time I will never get back. But here I am, treading water. For all my dreams, attempts, and pursuits, I am swimming nowhere it seems. I tread water. I swim to keep myself from drowning.
I’m not dying, but am I really living? And is this life abundantly?
I am finding life is not a straight shot to the finish line. It is a road with intersections, turns, and traffic lights. Sometimes when we feel like we are stuck, just treading water and going nowhere, maybe we are really just transitioning.
2 Corinthians 4:16
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
Maybe we are in another transition point in life. Some transitions are smooth and painless, but some are complicated and take more time than we expected them to. But this is real life. And I think that’s why they are called transitions and not dead ends, because we are going somewhere still, it’s just that things are changing. Time is not our enemy; it is a part of our process.
Being people that want to be continually moving forward is not a bad thing, but we must realize that occasionally the only action needing to be taken is the act of patience. If we are putting our trust in the Lord, we must put our timing in Him as well.
Sometimes saying, “I’ll stay where you have me,” is just as important as saying, “I’ll go where you send me.”
It’s amazing what a little shift in your perspective can do for your faith. Try looking at your situation a little differently, and know above all else that God is looking at your situation, too.
If it feels like you’re treading, maybe you’re really just transitioning.
“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”