“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters…He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalms 18:16-19
This week as I was driving over the Kampo Bridge, or what the natives affectionately call The Polish Connection, I noticed the water was getting close to taking over the river banks and close to the top of some docks. And whenever I see sites like this, especially a dock where water has overtaken it (whether by flooding or by deterioration) it raises an unnatural fear in me; it makes me anxious. I attribute it to a memory from when I was little.
My family has spent almost every Memorial weekend in Door County, Wisconsin since I was a baby. Some of our best family stories come from those weekends. It’s usually the one time in the year where most of our family makes a point to get together, all 28 of us (from my parents on down). The first handful of years our family had a boat and we’d usually lug it up there. One such year, when I was about 2, my parents took the fam over to a friend’s cottage from where we were staying via the boat. We pulled up alongside the cement pier in front of their friend’s place and proceeded to get out. I must have had my life vest off, because as I was getting off the boat, it pushed away from the pier just enough for me to miss the landing and my little body slipped between the boat and the cement pier and I sank like a rock into Lake Michigan. The water was deep and at two I didn’t know how to swim, so I was helpless to save myself. It happened so quickly I never closed my eyes and I remember seeing all the algae on the sea wall in front of me as I was going down. While under water I don’t remember being scared…probably more in shock. I don’t know if I was still sinking or on my way back up, but all of a sudden the long arm and strong hand of my dad plunged in the water and pulled me up and out. I don’t remember much more of that day, but as I said I do think that incident is where my long-standing and peculiar water-related fear originated.
After pondering this past event, I realize that this story is a picture of what it is to fall into sin. When we find ourselves sinking into sin, it’s because we’ve not heeded boundaries and disregarded safeguards (life vests). We think we are in control and can leap over the danger, but the unexpected occurs and the ‘boat moves away from the pier’ and causes us to fall right into the depths of sin. As we are going down, we may not be scared at first, maybe in shock because we didn’t expect to be where we are. But as a loving father does for his children, He will only allow us to sink so far (and sometimes allows us to hit the rocks below) before pulling us out. It may not be until we break the surface coming back up that we realize what just happened and the full and awful reality hits us like the intense cold created by water-soaked clothes on a windy day that are sear-sucked to our skin. It’s an intensely horrible and wildly uncomfortable state to be in.
Just as the memory of my fall into Lake Michigan created a memory that surfaces now and then along with its related fear, so does the memory of past sins. As a counselor told me a few years ago, it’s ok that these intense memories surface every now and again, as it serves as a reminder of where we don’t want to go again.
“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the lORD.” Psalm 40:2,3
Thank you Father for pulling me out of many deep waters, literally and figuratively. You are my Savior, my life belongs to you. Thank you for reminders of places I don’t want to return to and yet helping me to move beyond the past. You are worthy of all my praise! Your daughter, Marilou.