Think of how the waves of the ocean come and go, and how ridiculous it would be to try to hold on to them. Can you imagine sitting on the shoreline trying to hold on to each wave as the water came in over your hands and feet? Trying to hold on tightly to water seems absurd, but that is what we try to do with so many things in our lives. Instead of trying to hold on to each wave, when we are at the ocean we know we can just enjoy how the water feels without worrying about losing it. Even though the current wave will recede, others will come in its place. If we stay near the shoreline, we will always feel the water. Even though it is not the same wave over and over that we feel, it is the same water. It is the same ocean.
So it is with God.
Like the waves of an ocean, everything in our lives is subject to come and go, at any time. In fact, we can be sure that every single thing we cherish in this world will eventually recede. But, like the ocean, God is a constant. Like the water in the ocean, God’s love will always be present, even though the channels by which He provides it to us change while we are here on earth. Each relationship, activity, job, child, fill-in-the-blank thing that is currently giving us joy and peace and hope in this world is like a wave of the ocean. If and when it ends, we can be as sure as we are that the waves of the ocean will not cease to roll in from the deep that God will provide another delivery mechanism for His love and peace and warmth and hope.
Just like sometimes the tide goes out at sea, there are times when we walk along the shoreline of life that we do not feel the warmth of God’s love. There are times when our feet feel dry and our hearts feel lonely. We wonder if God has forgotten about us. We wonder how anyone could be expected to live when all of the waves of life have receded. But, just like we can be sure the ocean’s waves will come again as soon as the tide comes back in, we can always be sure that God will replenish our hearts and souls with His love. No matter how dry our lives get, no matter how seemingly empty things seem, we never have to be afraid that God’s love will not reach us again in real, tangible ways. He will always provide for us and fill us.
Then there are times when our lives feel less like we are walking on a shoreline and more like we are floating in the deep part of the ocean! When I was dating, for example, relationships or prospects would come and go, sometimes quickly. There were definitely long dry spells! When I got married, it felt more like I had waded out a bit into the ocean. My relationship with my husband provided a more constant way for me to experience God’s love and grace. When I had kids, there were more relationships in my life that couldn’t quite be compared to waves coming and going while walking along a shoreline. It was more like I had swum out to where I could no longer touch!
During certain times in our lives, the waves can still come and go, but the water around us is more constant. Sometimes I actually feel like I am swirling under the water, like I am being overwhelmed by an undertow I can’t control! But, just like how when you are caught in a real undertow, the best thing to do is to relax and not fight the current, you can trust that no matter how out of control and crazy you feel, God is ultimately in control. If I just let go and go with the flow, He will eventually steer me to a place where I can come up for a breath.
It sure is a lot easier to walk along a shore line without reaching down and trying to grasp the water, or to swim out into the ocean and float along with the current, than it is to do these things in our lives! How in the world am I supposed to just “go with the flow” and think of my children, my best friends, my job, my marriage, as waves of the ocean? How am I supposed to trust that eventually I will be able to catch a breath again when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life’s craziness? Of course I need to try to hold on and control the important things in my life right? I can’t just let them ebb and flow, can I?
Letting go doesn’t mean we quit trying to have good relationships or do well in our jobs. I still try my best to create a healthy, happy home for my children, to nurture them the best I can, to guide them and picture them as happy, healthy, well balanced, God-centered adults. I still reach out to friends I love regularly and make an effort to stay in touch and make plans with them. I don’t just let them go at the drop of a hat. I still work at my marriage, making sure to have date nights, to communicate with my husband, to resolve issues instead of running from them. I don’t let the marriage fail the second I don’t feel that “in love” feeling I had when we were dating. I realize that love is a life-long action, not a feeling.
But, I don’t hold on to them to the point where I think I have ultimate control over whether they come and go.
Let me repeat that in other words.
I let go, not of making an effort to maintain the things that are important to me in my life, but of thinking that I have ultimate control over whether they come and go.
I accept that no matter how hard I work, I could lose my job. No matter how hard I work to create a happy, healthy home for my children, they could grow up to have issues I would not want them to have. No matter how hard I work at my marriage, my husband could get in an accident or get a disease or be taken from me. Even he cannot be something that I feel God has entitled me to for any set length of time.
I can let go of thinking this, because I know that no matter what happens, God will always provide for me. If something did some day happen to someone in my life, which of course, I know at some point it will, God will fill that void with something or someone else or some new understanding or spiritual awareness that relieves me of the need to fill that void with something or someone else.
Even when the things in our lives that we call “blessings” disappear, other blessings come in their place. Sometimes they don’t look how we typically think “blessings” should look, but if we surrender our lives and everything in them to God, we will slowly realize there is a spiritual layer on top of the world we physically live in.
Things are not always what they seem. But there’s one thing we can be sure of. Even though circumstances change, God stays constant. And just like when we walk near the ocean, we feel water, if we stay close to God, we will always feel loved. In some form or fashion, no matter what is going on around us, there is always, always love.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
Originally posted on The Sisterhood (http://tothemoonmom.com/rolling-in-the-deep/)