In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t the best move to try snorkeling for the first time in choppy waters. Every time a wave came at me, my instinct was to gasp in a quick breath. Breathing through my mouth into a snorkeling tube was completely unnatural, and immersing my face in the water while breathing through that tube was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. I was sure I would drown. I didn’t have the rhythm of the breathing down yet, and the waves added to my discomfort. I was fairly hyperventilating into the tube, which as anyone can tell you, is most certainly not the way to snorkel. I clung desperately to the floatation device our instructor threw out, scarcely daring to let go when I dared to peer underwater. Once when I took my face out of the water, I spit out my breathing tube and promptly sucked in a huge mouthful of saltwater. If I thought snorkeling was terrifying before, I assure you, it’s nothing compared to the feeling I had after swallowing saltwater. I coughed violently and couldn’t take in air. I sounded like I was having an asthma attack (or maybe even like I was dying), so much so that our instructor swam over to me, ready to save my life. Yeah, nothing to see here, folks. Just your typical novice doing everything the wrong way. The trouble was that I wanted to trust myself and my own instincts rather than trusting the equipment to do its job.
Trusting something or someone else instead of ourselves is difficult for us to do, isn’t it? We’d like to think we have all the answers, that we can “fix” any situations that need fixing. Perhaps others have let you down in the past, so it’s just easier not to get your hopes up by relying upon someone else. Specifically, it’s hard to trust God to provide for us, or to wait for His timing in answering a prayer. We’d rather do things our own way and take matters into our own hands. Perhaps that’s why the Bible exhorts us over and over again to trust in God, reminding us why we can do so–because He’s never let us down before. “Those who know your name put their trust in you,” Psalm 9:10 reminds us, “for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Isaiah 26:4 asserts, “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” The analogy of a solid, firm rock is also taken up in Psalm 40:1-3, which says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” David likely wrote those words when he was fleeing from Saul, but like David, we have all been saved from the “pit of destruction.” We were destined for hell, but God saved us from that. He placed our feet upon solid footing: Jesus Himself, the cornerstone of our faith (Ephesians 2:20).
Despite the fact that snorkeling was unnatural for me, a really neat thing happened through the course of my experience. Once I finally realized I could trust the snorkeling gear, I was able to relax a bit, get into the proper rhythm for breathing, and truly enjoy the beauty of the underwater world rather than fretting about getting enough oxygen. I even got to the point that I just kept the snorkel in and breathed through it even with my head above the water, because the waves were such that I could get a faceful of water at any moment. Having the snorkel actually put me at ease in the midst of the waves. I knew I could trust it even when my instincts told me not to. Similarly, when times are good, it’s easy to trust God. But when times get challenging, it’s another matter entirely. Consider, then, the words of David from Psalm 56:3-4. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” David wrote these words not during a time of calm and peace, but during a time of great personal uncertainty for him, when “the Philistines seized him in Gath,” as the introduction to the psalm tells us. Why did David have this confidence? Because God had never let him down before. Neither will He let you down. Even death does not have the final say, for Jesus has defeated death for you. Trust that you are safe and secure in God’s loving hands. Even in the midst of stormy seas.