My dad was a traveling salesman for a while. It made for unpredictable income, but it also provided a few opportunities for family getaways.
When I was about eight, we were able to go with him to Florida and spent a day on the beach. This day stands out as a great day overall in my stack of childhood memories. I hadn't seen Jaws yet, so my fear of sharks was not yet overblown (But is there such a thing as an overblown fear of sharks? I don't think so.), and I didn't know about jellyfish, stingrays, or coral reefs. I was fearless in the ocean. To me, it was just a giant swimming pool.
And I loved it.
My baby brother and I built sandcastles.
We hunted for seashells.
And played in the waves.
It was pretty awesome.
And there were no shark attacks.
Turns out, though, unbeknownst to me there was another enemy in the water.
And I discovered it that day.
Dad and I were out a bit from shore. I was playing and splashing and having a jolly good time when, without warning, my legs were whipped out from under me and I went under the water.
Now, I was a relatively strong swimmer (for an eight year old) and I could handle myself in the water pretty well.
And yet every time I tried to right myself, something sucked me back down.
Over and over again.
In reality, this experience probably lasted about five seconds. Maybe ten.
But it felt like time was standing still. I was terrified.
Suddenly, a hand reached down into the water, grabbed me, righted me and pulled me, sputtering and choking, back onto my feet.
My dad's hand. In the midst of my fear, I had completely forgotten he was there.
That in that moment I was not beyond his reach.
I know that the metaphor here is pretty obvious. But I needed obvious today.
Today, caught in the undertow of chronic pain and feeling tossed and turned by it, time for me stood still and fear set in. It was difficult to right myself. Pain sucked me down and despair kept me spinning. And even though I've become a relatively strong swimmer in this sea of pain, I found myself unable to get my head above water.
And then it happened.
A hand reached down and pulled me up. Reminded me He was there.
That I was not beyond His reach.
That I would not drown.
I'm grateful that His arm is long enough to reach me.
That He has the strength to rescue me from the undertow.