I was working on this painting this morning, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the message behind this song, Oceans [Where Feet May Fail]. We sing it when it comes on the radio, sing it at church, make signs of the lyrics, and even jewelry with it on it, but are we really willing to let God take us to a place of complete and total dependence on Him?
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace…
What about when oceans really do rise, and when the tide is so strong our feet keep getting swept out from under us, and we’re continually knocked down? Do we continue to trust in Him, and even more, REST in Him, even when everything around us looks bleak-like there’s no way out, and we’re drowning in our situation? We sing, and even pray, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me…” But what about when we’re called to reach out to person(s) who continually take advantage of us? What happens when we’re struck with sickness, and there’s so many unknowns? What do we really do when all of the securities that we’ve built up for ourselves are depleted, and we’re being taken to places where our trust has to know no borders? Do we trust, and rest in Him, or do we pick up our flag of defeat and cower down in fear?
My husband and I both enjoy watching UFC, especially when it’s someone that has a big title to defend. I’ve noticed something about the outcome of the fighters that, most of the time, holds true. The fighter who comes out just swinging and throwing with everything they have usually gasses out early and typically doesn’t win the fight. The opponent who really takes time to examine their partner, does their research before the fight, but also during the fight, and plans their punches, kicks, and take downs-they usually win. They are constantly studying their opponent, and when that opportune moment opens for them to land that perfect hook, they get a knock-out and win the fight.
Living a life devoted to Christ means fighting through difficult, sometimes even impossible, circumstances. We’re all fighting against the same spiritual forces, the evil ones, in this world, and the Bible lays out our battle plan in Ephesians 6:10-18. If we take time to study our opponent, we can learn his fighting style, anticipate his take-downs, and know how to fight back. It’s not all about swinging and kicking, but sometimes it’s about quietly anticipating his next move when he’s got us down, and then countering that with a move [like prayer] that may ultimately result in our victory. If we wear ourselves out with worry, fear, and anxiety over something we don’t have control over, we’re gassed – burned out – and have no energy left to finish the fight. So even though the odds may be stacked against me because my opponent appears bigger and stronger, I can conserve my energy and rest in the knowledge that it’s Christ’s strength working through me. The great thing is that Christ’s strength is perfected in our weakness-when were in total surrender and dependency on him, and him alone. Don’t confuse strength and energy here. My three year old is full of energy; he can literally run and play hard all day, and keep it up until he finally crashes at bed time, but he isn’t strong at all. He struggles to carry a gallon of milk a few feet. He’s energetic, but not strong. As long as we have the energy to fight, Christ will supply the strength we need to win!
“When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace…” I remember taking a course on life-guarding. We were taught that if someone is drowning, not to approach them from the front where they can see you, but from behind where they don’t see you coming. This is because often, when someone is drowning, they are looking for anything to grab a hold of to keep them above the water, including another person. They’re panicked and desperate. I also remember, off the books, our instructor even telling us that if the person we’re going to save is flailing around and kicking, it’s sometimes best to wait for them to completely stop fighting before attempting to save them, because there’s no risk at that point of them taking you [the rescuer] down with them. And in really tough times, when you do get too close and they DO take you down, to swim down away from them, and pop up behind them to save them. Often times when we’re standing in the peaceful water at the beach [everything in life is peachy-keen], and then a swift wave knocks us off our feet [touch times hit], and we’re carried out with the tide [tough times last longer than we expected], our natural response is panic and fear [because we can’t solve our problems]. But what if, when we’re most vulnerable and desperate, our Rescuer is right behind us, waiting for us to stop fighting OUR OWN FIGHT long enough so that He can reach out and grab us, and then carry us to safety? The whole purpose behind the song Oceans is to bring us to awareness that we are never meant to live a life dependent on what we can see, but instead, dependent on the promises of God, through faith in Christ. There are going to be tough fights in our lives, even ones that look impossible, but our position is to trust, to call out to the One who saves, and surrender our circumstances to Him.
As we’re called out onto the waters, to walk in spots where our feet don’t touch bottom, let us go boldly knowing that our Savior promises to carry us. Let us put on the armor of God that’s needed to fight the enemy, and fight through our storms. That way, even though the battle rages all around us, the waters are rising, and our flesh says, “panic,” we can rest in the embrace of our Father.