Keeping the Waves at Arm's Length...
I have a favorite beach. You would never see it in any travel magazine or on any internet search. It is a private section of beach off the beaten path where you never find footprints of anything other than birds and the scurry marks left by ghost crabs. It is just off a shallow reef, and the crystal blue water reflects the sky and laps quietly on the rocky shore. It is a tiny piece of beach that's out of the public eye and a place I love, and a place where I have been fortunate enough to have heard the Lord speak to me very clearly (and no, I'm not telling you where it is).
There are rarely any humans on this beach, only the distant sound of the waves about ¼ mile offshore. As an introvert, it's truly my happy place.
(( SIDEBAR: If you know me at all, you know that when the word introvert was coined, and people began understanding there were differences in how people related to the world, the introverted ones looked me up and made me their queen. I'm VERY introverted. For those who are extroverted, there is a misconception that introverts want to keep people at arm's length. As their leader, I feel it necessary to tell you that's not entirely accurate. You are truly wonderful humans, you are just exhausting, and as introverts, we just have to gear back up to enjoy your company! ◡̈ That said, due to the way the world naturally favors the exciting personalities and leadership draw of extroverts, I used to think as an introvert that my version of awesome wasn't what the world wanted. I'm not as woo as most, I don't love the public eye or 10,000 questions, can't walk in and light up a room, don't think fast on my feet, and prefer alone time over large crowds. However, a few years ago, it was right there on that little piece of beach the Lord taught a very valuable lesson. He taught me that I was not a terrible extrovert, but instead, I was a really incredible introvert, and I've embraced it ever since. More on that another day)).
Back to the plot - As I was sitting and thinking and listening to the Lord on my little patch of sand one afternoon, he began to speak to me about those thundering waves so far out and how that contrasted with the quiet lapping of water at my feet on the beach.
He said, "It's the same water; it's up to you how you experience it."
One was in tumultuous chaos. One in peaceful release. It was a tiny pause where I heard his voice and it made a huge impact.
He was helping me learn to keep a proper perspective and keep things appropriately at arm's length. Please don't misunderstand me here. I do not mean that in an "I'm not going to deal with that" kind of way, but instead in an "I'm going to let God deal with that" kind of way.
This perspective shift has not come easy. Have you ever tried to run fast in deep water? It doesn't actually work. In the same way, there have been too many times where I've gone sprinting out into the ocean of my trouble to rush in and "fix something" and soon realize that running into the deep water of my panic and impulse is really difficult. The faster I try to run into the ever-deepening water of chaos, the harder it is. I soon feel my feet losing the ground as I get in over my head and have to tread water time and time again until I am absolutely exhausted. And yes, while the Lord certainly wants me to acknowledge the trouble or problem or chaos and certainly not be in denial of it, he also simply calls me to stand at a distance, on the safety of the shore, and watch from a protected distance as he handles the issue, the problem, the chaos...in love. He simply wants me to learn to trust him. From that great distance, I can surely still tell the waves of my trouble are big, but not NEARLY as big as they would be if I were at the foot of them, experiencing them crashing down on me. Instead, if experiencing those waves from a distance, when the water of the trial reaches me, it has been filtered through his hand and protection as I've learned to trust him, and I can respond more appropriately to it.
It still impacts me, but differently. Less panic. More peace.
Life is hard. Waves of trials come quickly and surge without warning sometimes. But our perspective of them can change everything. I believe that the Lord wants to act as our buffer, strong tower, and place of safety. I can either run straight to him and let him handle what's crashing down all around me, or I can run straight for the chaos and make it worse. And - no matter what tsunami comes... my God is still bigger and loves to speak to the waves of my situation and tell them to chill out. So when faced with a problem, I now try to ask: Is this a wave that will take me out, or is this a wave that I can trust the Lord to handle as I resign as the supreme keeper of the universe? (all sarcasm included).
How have you worked on trusting the Lord to keep the torrent that life brings at arm's length?
"The followers came to awake Jesus. They said, "Teacher! Teacher! We are going to die!" Then Jesus got up and spoke sharp words to the wind and the high waves. The wind stopped blowing and there were no more waves. He said to them, "Where is your faith?" The followers were surprised and afraid. They said to each other, "What kind of a man is He? He speaks to the wind and the waves and they obey Him." - Luke 8:24-25