We live on an island that is surrounded by the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Thousands of tourists visit every year to snorkel and dive in our crystal clear waters.
I’m not very good at living on an island. I’m not adventurous and my idea of fun is parking myself in a chair with a book and a latte, while watching everyone else do their adventure-y things.
You might say I like sitting still.
In fact, after two years of living here, I had yet to venture out past my knees into the Caribbean Sea, let alone snorkel or dive.
Until last week.
Last week, friends came to visit and offered us the opportunity to go out in a boat with them and snorkel.
I. Was. Terrified. The thought of dropping myself out of a boat and swimming around with wild sea creatures in deep water was a lot for my anxiety-prone self to handle. I’m not a strong swimmer, and I just knew I would sink and probably be eaten by barracudas.
But, I also knew I would regret it if I didn’t go.
In Psalm 46, the psalmist sings a song about the greatness of our God. “We will not fear” he says. “Come behold the works of the LORD,” he sings. And then in verse 10, he writes,
“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted among the earth.”
When I looked up the Hebrew definition of the word “still”, it was defined as “to sink, relax, sink down, let drop.”
This isn’t the kind of “stillness” I prefer when I am curled up safely on solid ground with my book.
This verse is telling me to let go and sink. Let go of what? Sink into what? Why? That sounds terrifying.
As we ventured out in the boat, I looked out into the most indescribably turquoise waters I had ever seen. To experience the wonder of the reef below, I was going to have to let go of the boat and drop down into that deep water.
I was going to have to sink.
I strapped some flippers onto my feet.
“You have to relax,” my friend said. “You can’t struggle against the water. You have to let it float you up.”
I watched each member of our group let go of the boat, sink down into the water, and bob back up to the surface. They floated leisurely around, oohing and ahhhing at the beauty of the reef.
I was especially impressed by my daughter, who, as it turns out, is part mermaid. She snorkeled around that reef as if she had been doing it her whole life.
I let go of the boat. I jumped. I sank down into the blue water.
As it turns out, I am not part mermaid. Evidently, I am part bowling ball. This is why, in the group picture that our guide took, I am the only person in our group of 4 adults and 6 children who is floating around on a bright yellow life vest.
I bobbed to the surface and began struggling. I did not want to sink. I did not want to relax. I told my husband that I wanted to get back in the boat. Thankfully, he talked me out of it.
“Just relax,” he said. “Look down into the water and the rest of you will float up.”
Eventually, I did relax enough to look down into the water. And yes, it was incredible. The reef was truly awe-inspiring. I was so glad that I had stayed in the water. I would never have been able to enjoy the underwater majesty of God’s creation if I hadn’t been willing to let go and sink into the sea.
I did need that life vest to help me relax. It seems that I still have some growing to do in the trust department. But the more I practice, the easier it will be to float and experience the reef without it.
In the same way that I needed to sink into that water—not knowing what would happen or what I would see—I believe that the psalmist is telling me to sink into the unknown; to sink in faith, trusting that God is in the depths and beauty of that water. He will not let me drown and as I sink, HE is lifted up.
Sinking in faith doesn’t always come naturally. Some of us sink like bowling balls. But the more we practice it, the more bouyant we become.
Be still. Let go of your fears. Let go of your control. Stop fighting against the waves. Drop down. Sink in faith. Let the waters carry you. And HE will be lifted up. HE will be exalted. And you will see and comprehend and know the greatness of your God.
(This article was originally written for the “Encouragement From Women Who’ve Been There” Facebook page.)