Daily D – Psalm 69:1-2
Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. PSALM 69:1-2 (NLT)
“Did you drown?” It was an odd question. The living, breathing, twelve-year-old me was clearly standing there alive and well. The younger boy had heard a story I told about a swimming adventure and asked his question. Either he did not fully comprehend what it means to drown, or he had been made so terrified of the water he assumed anyone doing anything in or around it was in danger.
I did not drown. I came close on another occasion when I did something stupid. The cove was small and I decided to swim across it. No one else was around. I made it safely to the other side, exhausted but pleased with my efforts.
My only swimming lesson in my younger years came when I was thrown into a pool and told to save myself. I quickly learned the basics. On that occasion, there were several people around who could have saved me if my terror had turned into panic and I experienced real danger.
After recovering for a few minutes after my swim across the cove, I decided to swim back. Again, there was no one around. Halfway across, cramps began and muscles seized. Drowning became a real possibility. Terror and panic were unwelcome companions. My head went under the water’s surface as I inhaled a gulp of air. It was time to focus or die. I concentrated all my energy on the movements I could make to progress across the remaining distance.
Lying on the dock gasping for air and aching from the cramps in my legs, arms, and core, I realized what an idiotic thing it was to attempt to do more than I could do and to do it all alone without anyone who could assist me if I experienced trouble.
Have you ever felt like you were drowning?
Late last week, I had one of those moments. Several deadlines converged. Multiple tasks were due to complete different projects. I remembered my near-drowning experience. I took a deep breath, focused, and started taking care of one detail and then another.
Little things like not drowning provide a place to stand when we are up to our necks again. Having survived once, we gain confidence we can survive again. We know things may go more slowly and painfully than we prefer, but also that life and health lie on the other bank.
David lived a life full of challenges. He learned from each of them. Each successful outcome gave him courage and confidence for the next. His teenage self could explain that he had taken on a lion and a bear. Goliath would end up like his stuffed lion and bearskin rug.
Think back on the biggest challenges you have overcome. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about God’s faithfulness? You obviously did not drown. When the waters rise again, and they will, what strokes will you use to swim out of danger?
The word overwhelm means to bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, particularly water. The cove I swam across was likely only a few feet deeper than my feet could touch from the surface. It does not matter how deep the water is if you don’t stop swimming. On the other hand, a scuba diver can drown in a foot of water if he does not manage his equipment correctly.
In most cases, we are about as overwhelmed as we choose to be. Proper focus and correct actions save us no matter the depths.
If you are feeling whelming waters today, focus. What is the most important thing you need to do next? Then what? And what else? Keep answering those questions, keep addressing those issues until you realize you have reached the other side. Then you may collapse and rest. Then you can thank God for all the preparation that led you to this successful outcome. Then you can ask him what the next adventure is. Then you will be able to tell others, “For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people,” (v. 33).
I will experience confidence when floodwaters rise because God has not let me drown yet.
Our Father, you saved my body from drowning. You saved my soul from hell. You saved me from my deadlines. You save me from all my troubles. I am intimately acquainted with all my limitations. I take confidence from the reality that your strength and your wisdom are unlimited and available at every moment. I freely confess, I joyfully declare, I need you. Amen.
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6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:
7 “Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
8 “Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
9 Do you have an arm like God’s,
and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
that your own right hand can save you
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Job 40:6–14.
Job 29:21-25 21 “People listened to me expectantly,
waiting in silence for my counsel.
22 After I had spoken, they spoke no more;
my words fell gently on their ears.
23 They waited for me as for showers
and drank in my words as the spring rain.
24 When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
the light of my face was precious to them.
25 I chose the way for them and sat as their chief;
I dwelt as a king among his troops;
I was like one who comforts mourners.