Thursday, January 24, 2013
The only necessary piece of equipment
One of the excursions we had scheduled while we were on our cruise was a snorkeling adventure in the middle of the deep, blue sea near Key West. Since my in-laws were traveling with us, we had enough adults to put one with each child. Jeff wasn't feeling well, so he volunteered to stay on the boat with Clay. Ruth selected her Grandpa as a partner; Weston selected Mimi; and Max selected me. It was a rare moment of everybody getting what they wanted, without arguing or whining. I had some trouble getting the right equipment, so Max and I were the last of our group to leave the boat. The water was pretty rough, especially at the point where the stairs met the water. I was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing anyway, having never snorkeled in deep water and not liking to step out of my comfort zone. But, the moment Max felt the splash of the cold water on his skinny little body, he absolutely panicked. He was screaming and crying and clinging to me for all he was worth. And, then, I felt it, too: an all-consuming, utterly paralyzing panic. The kind of panic Peter must have felt when Jesus called him to walk on the water, and then he started to sink. I ceased to care about the underwater view I was missing. I no longer knew how to swim. I forgot how to breathe. And, I certainly lost faith in my floatation device, which interestingly enough, the captain insisted was the only necessary piece of equipment for those wanting to swim with the fishes. But, as the adult, I had to act like everything was o.k. I should have won a Grammy for that performance. Fortunately, the lifeguard noticed our situation right away (probably because of Max's screaming) and quickly got us back to the boat. For several moments, as Max continued to whimper, I just stood there shaking--more from fear than cold. My inclination was to sit my rear end down in the seat, snuggle up in my towel, and never think about this harrowing experience again. Instead, I slid my mask back down over my face and inserted the breathing tube in my mouth. And, as I descended the stairs for the second time, I decided to forget about even trying to see anything under the water. My only goal was to relax and to believe the floatation device would hold me up. That's it. I just needed to know for sure that I wasn't going to drown. This was a pretty lofty goal for me, since I'm pretty sure I don't even relax when I'm sleeping. After several long moments of focused relaxation in the water, I allowed myself to put my face in. Again, I felt that panic creeping up. So, I decided to just have faith that I would actually be able to breath through the tube. Finally, my breath began to come easier, so I flicked my flippers to move myself closer to the coral and opened my eyes. There, I saw a whole other world. And, then, before I knew it, the captain was telling us we needed to make our way back to the boat. Finally wrapped in my towel, I took a moment to reflect. And that's when I thought about Peter. Peter wanted a better view. He wanted to step out of the boat and see what Jesus saw. And, I think he really believed that Jesus could keep him on the topside of the water. He believed it with everything he had...until he actually set foot on the water. It wasn't what he expected. It was harder, less comfortable, and he panicked. Instead of relaxing in the arms of the One who controlled the sea, he got distracted by his own thoughts, and that's where his trouble began. And, then, just like that, he was back in the boat, safe and sound. And, he could have chosen to stay there for the rest of his days. After all, as a fisherman, that was where he was most comfortable. But, he didn't stay there. He took control of the panic and allowed himself to be moved by the Holy Spirit. His eyes were opened to a whole new world. But, it didn't happen all at once. He struggled with doubt and fear, just like the rest of us. And, I'm sure that like me, there were some days where all he could do was to believe that Jesus is and He can. ("I'm wearing the floatation device and it can hold me up.") And, I'm sure that sometimes taking the next step (like putting my face in the water) was terrifying in a new way, but Peter decided to have faith that doing so would would provide a better view and be more fulfilling in the long run. Eventually, Peter got pretty good at trusting the Lord. And, perhaps with practice, I will get there, too, one baby step at a time. I can't tell you the snorkeling trip was the most enjoyable thing I did on my vacation, but I can tell you it was probably the most necessary.