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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Jeremiah 35:12-14 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.