The sand was scorching under the soles of my feet, having been heated by the sun all afternoon. Eager for cool relief, I skipped merrily into the salty waves of the Atlantic Ocean. My family was away on holiday, vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I remember my dad being there with us. He scooped me up, and took me past the shallower waters that only went to my tiny shins, into the unknown. Now, my father is a big guy. He’s over six foot, broad, and was in the navy. He waded out in the ocean until the water was at his shoulders, where he still was stronger, but I could feel the pull of the waves around me. As we stood out there, immersed in the water around, a wave came and splashed over my face. Panicking, I kicked away from my dad and tried to swim back to shore.
Before I could even swim a few feet away, my dad grabbed me and pulled me back to him. “Don’t you ever try to do that again!” he said, his voice firm. “You could get pulled away from me by the waves, and that’s dangerous.”
I clung to my father, hiccupping partly from the water that had gotten in my throat and nose, and partly from the frightened tears. He walked me back up to the beach, stronger than when my little limbs tried to pathetically doggy paddle back.
Fear can make us do things that don’t make sense. Out of fear, we try to take control of a situation, or we try to fight for ourselves when we just don’t have the strength or the power to succeed.
My dad that day was concerned, because I tried to save myself in a way that could’ve ended up in me getting hurt. I’ve wondered if this is how our heavenly Father feels as well. When we are frightened, confused; when we feel that it is up to only us to save ourselves, does the Lord feel that pull, that concern? I feel that He does. Whenever we have gone astray, or flee from under His wing, I believe that there is an ache in the heart of God. How He longs to be there for us, as our Protector, sheltering us from the storm.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)
“Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psalm 57:1 NIV)
God wants us to depend on Him, even if things are getting hard, even if things feel like they’re getting out of hand. When the waves crashed around me and I was scared, when I tried to flee, where was the safest place for me? It wasn’t on my own in the middle of the waves. It was in the arms of my father, who had the strength to keep me anchored. When David was running from Saul, and things were grim, where was David? David abided in the presence of God, relied on Him, and kept his faith and trust in the Lord to protect him.
Most likely, the situation scaring you right now isn’t life threatening. Perhaps it’s that your finances are looking tight, or you’re in the middle of a relationship that’s experiencing tough times. Maybe you just don’t know who you are and nothing around you is stable enough for you to depend on. He wants to be there for you, to hide you under the shadow of His wing and protect you in the storm. Will the storm still be there? Yes, until it is over. Will you still need to walk through it? Yes, until it is over. Will He be there with you? Yes, even when it is over. He will see you through to the other side, strengthening you, protecting you so that nothing will pull you away from Him.
It’s tempting to kick away, to try and protect ourselves, especially if we believe that we can only depend upon ourselves. However, the safest place we can be, the place where we can thrive, is leaning into our Father. Let Him hold you in the waves, where on your own it would be too strong and carry you away. In His arms, you feel the strength of the storm, but you also feel His strength on your side, empowering you to brave it, to conquer it, to overcome it.