ANX­I­ETY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

Activated - - CONTENTS - By Josie Clark Josie Clark is a mem­ber of the Fam­ily In­ter­na­tional in the USA.

I grew up around creeks, lakes, and rivers, but when I was six­teen I went to At­lantic City, New Jersey, and saw the ocean for the first time. At the board­walk the night we ar­rived, I walked out on a wooden pier. As the first thun­der­ous waves crashed be­neath my feet, I grabbed the rail­ing, ter­ri­fied. Since then I have had a cau­tious fond­ness for the ocean. I’ve never been a strong swim­mer, but I love the look of the ocean, the feel of sand be­tween my toes, and even the weight­less feel­ing of be­ing lifted from my feet and car­ried about by gen­tle waves—as long as I have some­thing buoy­ant to hang onto.

So when we spent a sum­mer near the beach and my two teenage sons de­vel­oped a keen in­ter­est in boogie board­ing, I could re­late. I was happy to see them se­curely teth­ered to their boards a hun­dred yards out in the wa­ter, wait­ing for that per­fect wave. But as time went on, they got more dar­ing, in­sist­ing that the per­fect wave was to be found fur­ther and fur­ther out at sea. I would sit on the shore­line watching the dots that were my sons in the midst of all that blue ocean and try to con­trol my anx­i­ety.

Worry seems al­most a nec­es­sary part of par­ent­ing. It is a sign of love and con­cern. It is also a warn­ing sig­nal that it’s time to pray. I think worry can ac­tu­ally be a good thing when it causes us to chan­nel our neg­a­tive, anx­ious thoughts into a prayer that can help bring about a pos­i­tive out­come in that sit­u­a­tion.

It is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to train our chil­dren and lead them in the right di­rec­tion, but at a cer­tain point we need to pull back and trust God to keep them from se­ri­ous harm. As chil­dren grow, they need to be able to learn through an ever-broad­en­ing range of ex­pe­ri­ences; they need to learn to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for them­selves, and they need to learn to pray them­selves when “out in the deep blue sea.”

It gives them a sense of se­cu­rity, though, to know that their par­ents are “on the shore,” still look­ing after them and still vig­i­lant in prayer— like the time when one of my sons ex­pe­ri­enced a mo­ment of sheer panic after a wave caught him off guard and knocked him for a loop, and the

cord that teth­ered him to his boogie board slipped off. He thought he was go­ing to drown, but he re­mem­bered that I was on the beach pray­ing for him, and he called out to God him­self. He knew in that in­stant he was go­ing to be okay, and he was.

As my kids grow up and move away, I think it’s im­por­tant that they know they have a mother who prays for them. That also re­minds them to turn to God in mo­ments of anx­i­ety. I can’t be there to hold them up, but He can. I can’t meet all their needs or solve all their prob­lems for them, but He can work on their be­half when they ex­er­cise their faith and pray.

An ac­quain­tance once told me about how he had been at the beach with some friends and their kids when one of the girls was caught in a rip­tide. As she was be­ing pulled out to sea, he re­al­ized she was in trou­ble, dove in, and be­gan swim­ming out to res­cue her. The cur­rent was stronger than he ex­pected, and it took him a long time to reach her. By the time he did, she was near drown­ing.

He tried to help her back, but re­al­ized in one des­per­ate mo­ment that he was worn out and wasn’t go­ing to make it. He called out to God, and the Lord told him to stop strug­gling and reach down with his foot. He found what he thought was the tip of a sand­bar and man­aged to stay there, hold­ing onto the girl and bob­bing with the waves un­til a U.S. Coast Guard res­cue team ar­rived.

When they were safely on shore, one of his res­cuers said, “What I don’t un­der­stand is how you could be out there for so long, hang­ing onto that girl and tread­ing wa­ter.” My friend told him about the sand­bar that he could just barely reach with his legs out­stretched. “I don’t know what you are talk­ing about,” the man replied. “We know this area, and where you were the wa­ter is many me­ters deep. There is no sand­bar.”

Even in the mid­dle of the deep blue sea, God will give us some­thing to plant our feet on, even if He has to cre­ate it out of noth­ing in answer to our earnest prayers.

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