In Over Your Head

My family and I recently set out on an adventure and went tubing down a river in Tennessee.  It was a beautiful trip.  All 7 of us were floating along laughing and having a good time.  We relaxed during the slow spots and held on during the fast parts and really enjoyed ourselves.  All in all the river was pretty shallow and remarkably clear, except for a few  spots where the water grew murky and we knew we were in deeper waters and made sure to be careful and stay in our tube.

At one point nearing the end of the 2 hour trip I went through a small rapid and got stuck on a rock.  I couldn’t get moving by scooting, so I just got off the tube and stood up. The water only came to my mid-calf.  About the same time my 8 year old daughter, who was about 10 feet away, found herself stuck as well.  She got out of her tube with the water at her knees only to slide down a sloped rock and find the water up to her waist and unable to get back into her tube.  She had on a life jacket and is a pretty good swimmer, but she couldn’t see her feet and couldn’t get back in the tube and started to panic.  I called to her to stay still and not worry that I was coming to help.  Everything was fine…

No sooner did I get her back into her tube then I started slipping on that sloped rock and then suddenly everything was not fine.  I had hold of her tube with her in it and had hold of my tube, but in about 2 seconds I was dangling in the water, up to my neck, between those 2 tubes and had no idea how far above the bottom of the river I was.  I couldn’t feel anything beneath my feet but water and couldn’t see down into the murk.  And the crazy thing was that about 4 feet to my left I could see clear running water that was only about 10 inches deep, but for the life of me I couldn’t get to it.

I knew if I let go of my girl she would panic and I would end up flipping my tube over my head and going under.  If you think I just didn’t want to get my hair wet, well that wasn’t it at all. The truth is I’m not a great swimmer…and I didn’t have the life jacket. (I know. I know. I know. But most of the water was only 10 inches deep.  Seriously!  And I did NOT intend to get out of the tube and fall into an underwater cavern!)

I knew that if I had to swim I would probably be ok, maybe, but I didn’t know how deep it was and I didn’t want to scare my daughter and I didn’t want to unnecessarily risk dying.  I also knew that if I let go of my tube and grabbed hers I might flip it and both of us would be under the water.  That. Was. Not. An. Option! So there I was.  In over my head.  Hanging on.  Kicking my feet.  Going nowhere.

Meanwhile, the rest of my crew had managed to stay in the small rapids and were all down river from us.  My girl and I had managed to get in a deep hole with no current and couldn’t get out.  I tried for awhile with no success and kept hoping the party of tubers behind us would finally catch up to where we were and give us a hand.  I could see them.  I could hear them laughing.  I could still see my family, even though they were in the current leaving us behind.  I could see the current a few feet away.  I could see the bank.  I couldn’t get to any of them.  Everything was fine all around me.  Life was good for everyone.  But I was not fine.  And life suddenly got complicated.

I’m a pretty strong-willed, independent, stubborn kind of woman that can do most things I set my mind too.  But surveying the situation and working hard and getting no where I did the most reasonable thing a girl can do.  I called out to my man for help.  I used my loud Mommy voice from my gut and yelled far down the river for my hubby (who can swim like a fish) to come and get us.  And he paddled against the current all the way back to where we were, pulled us to the shore so I could get my feet on solid ground and helped me get back into my tube.  His arms were pretty sore the next day.

After we were out of the river and onto the bus that took us back to our car, we asked the kids how they enjoyed the day.  Everyone had a great time.  My 8 year old said, “Everything was perfect, until Mom almost drowned!” That’s just like our lives isn’t it?  Everything is going great, and then suddenly we are in over our heads.

Nobody ever plans to fall out of the boat.  We’re just enjoying the ride and then in an instant we have slid down a slope that we didn’t even know was there.  Life seems fine for everyone else, but suddenly our lives are not fine.  We are stuck, getting left behind. We are in over our heads.  Finances.  Addiction.  Marital problems.  Health.  Emotional distress. Family crisis.  Job loss.

What do we do when we are in over our heads?  The most reasonable thing we can.  We call out to The Man.  Jesus.  The God who became man so that He could understand our weakness and die on the cross to save us from our sins.  But He is so much more than a Savior who rescued us from our sins one day when we gave our hearts to Him.   He is a full-time, on-the-clock, 24/7, never taking a break, all-day-long kind of Savior that reaches out to us whenever we are in need.  Always coming for us.  Always bringing us to shore.  Always helping us find our footing.  Always helping us back into the boat.

Friends – that’s the kind of Savior God is.  And that’s the kind of Savior I need.  And He wants to be that kind of Savior for you too.  If you’re in over your head, call to Him.  He will come for you.

Isaiah 43:2 – “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

Photo credit: Martin LaBar via / CC BY-NC