When Oceans Rise

What a weekend. I escaped to the beach for three glorious is-it-really-October days, complete with plenty of rest and reflection. Most of the time was spent in an old white house mere steps away from the Atlantic Ocean. I could not have asked for a better spot.

I've always loved the ocean. I think part of that is because I grew up in the Midwest. We have the great plains, long-stretching forests, and incredible lakes. As wonderful as all these things are, they’re not the ocean. The ocean is different. It feels special. I've been fortunate enough to take vacations on multiple occasions to both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and I can tell you that the thrill of these adventures never fades.  

I love walking through warm sand. I love when the cold waves wash up to your ankles and your feet start to sink down into the muck. I love the sound of the tide hitting the shore. And I love looking out at that deep blue hue for as far as the eye can see.

I’m in complete awe of the ocean. I’m intrigued and impressed by it. I marvel at its beauty and wonder at its seemingly never-ending reach.

At the same time, I’m afraid of it. It extends beyond my understanding. It’s powerful, and it’s virtually unknowable. It’s a giant beast that can overtake me at any moment.

The ocean is a lot like life. Some days it’s calm and peaceful. The waves are quiet and gently lap against the shore. Other days the water is choppy and rough. The current is strong, and the undertow doesn’t play games. The tide can change without warning, leaving a path of utter destruction in its wake.

As I thought about this weekend, I realized I’m in a season where the tide is rising. The water is getting tougher, and I can’t quite see where to navigate. Life feels choppy, unexpected, ever-changing. I’m wrestling with fear and loneliness, and I’m looking out at this giant blue abyss in anger and frustration. Why am I feeling this way? Why am in this place yet again? Why do I have to struggle?

The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!’
— Matthew 8:25-27

Yet in the struggle—in all the fear and all the shame—I haven’t been overtaken. I’ve been shown goodness and mercy. I’ve been loved well by friends and family, and I’ve been reminded of truth: The same God who masters the vast ocean is involved in the intricacies of our lives. The ocean is one amazing piece of evidence of God’s powerful hand. If he can calm the wind and the waves, just think what He can do in our own lives.

Often we’re faced with a rising tide and rough waters so that we turn to Him. I have to keep reminding myself that He is ever present; He won’t let me drown.

Since coming back to the city, I’ve been listening on repeat to Hillsong United’s “Oceans.” It brings tears to my eyes when I hear it. I'm meditating on the words over and over. There's something so comforting about even humming it to myself. With more than 44 million YouTube views, it's safe to say I'm not the only one who has been affected by this song. 

It's become my prayer in recent weeks. I’m asking for help to embrace the unknown and the struggle, and to walk out upon the waters wherever I am called. And, ultimately, I'm asking for faith.

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

 

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

 

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You've never failed and You won't start now

 

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

 

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

 

I will call upon Your name

Keep my eyes above the waves

My soul will rest in Your embrace

I am Yours and You are mine