Sometimes I really frustrate myself.
There are some days where it is very difficult for me to hand every single piece of my life over to God. Often, I don’t find myself willing to fully submit my heart to Him until I reach a low point. Lies of self-sufficiency blind me from freely accepting His constant support, especially in the sly moments of ease. There are days where my faith stands so strong and the peace that I feel because of this consumes me, no matter what life throws my way. And then there are days where I fool myself into believing that I can conquer the challenges before me all by myself. My pride prohibits me from giving my praises to whom they are truly due. It is in these times when I am struggling to win my own battles that I have to break into my guarded heart and beg it to surrender all to God. Why do I fight against my Savior whom is so good to me? Why do I flee from Him when He is so capable of taking every battle that I face and creating something beautiful from the ruins?
Too often do I struggle with keeping myself afloat when the waters are raging, instead of letting God carry me to shore and give me rest within his sweet embrace.
Just a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take a trip up to Lake Tahoe with a few friends. The craziest of the bunch, P, had rented a paddle board during our first day at the lake and since it didn’t fit it anyone’s car, she had no choice but to paddle it back to where our group was set up. After an incredible day of paddling around and soaking in the water, the time finally came for her to take the board back across the lake. I still don’t know exactly how P got me to do this, but after asking me a few times, she finally convinced me to return it with her and her sister. So off we ventured into the great green waters, board beneath us three and paddle in hand. The first ten minutes of our trip were really fun. That is until we realized that we had only moved about 30 feet away from our side of the shore. And to make our journey even more dramatic, P thought that it would hilarious to make sure that her sister and I were flipped off the board at least every three minutes. What should have been a 15 or so minute glide back to the rental station, turned into an hour ride as the three of us flopped along down the shore at less than snail speed.
We FINALLY came fairly close to the rental station, so P and I jumped off into the water as her sister paddled ahead to return the board. This meant that P and I had to swim a pretty good distance to reach the shore. I do know how to swim, I am just not the best with long distances, even this mild one. And although I was gasping for air and my limbs began to ache soon after I began pushing through the water, I was determined to make it to the shore. I eventually swam close to a dock that I was able to hang onto, so I told P to go ahead of me as I caught my breath for a few moments. After hyping myself up for the last part of the swim, I plunged back into the water to cross the distance that remained. Soon after I began to struggle across, willing myself to survive, I heard P start to laugh and then yell out to me. “Celina! You can stop swimming now. It’s shallow enough to walk from where you are.” I immediately stopped, put my feet down, and felt the sand crunch beneath my toes. I’m sure you can imagine how silly I felt as it started to hit me that, if I had only tried to feel for the lake’s floor a little earlier, I wouldn’t have had to panic and fight against almost drowning. I would have saved myself so much energy if I had only realized sooner that I was already in a safe place.
This event that was so frustrating in the moment, is now a funny story that I get to share with you. I also see how much it represents the ways in which I often resist God’s help and promises of protection in my life. I spend so much of my energy worrying about the things that may or may not go wrong, and that are scary and of the unknown. Instead of reminding myself that God has already promised that He is and will always be fighting for me, I reject his help and try to do it all on my own. Just as I neglected to reach for the lake’s floor when I was swimming to the safety of the shore, I find myself neglecting my God who is standing right beside me with His arms open wide saying, “If you would only come to me, I would give you rest.”
The frustrating thing is that it’s usually when I am in my darkest moments of life that it becomes so easy for me to run to God for refuge and cling to Him with all of my might. Then I find that once I soak in the love and grace that He is and He carries me through the darkness with constant faithfulness, I allow myself to walk away from Him again. The love that I show Him is faulty and unreliable, when He displays the exact opposite to me. It really shows how much I need His grace and how great His love for me truly is. That He could love someone who fails Him daily, leaves me in awe. His beauty is overwhelming and it all shows how good and great He truly is.
But why is it that once I find relief from the sorrow, that I tend to let my heart slip out of His safe arms and pretend like I have now found the secret to doing this all by myself? The lies that I tell myself lead to much heartache. When I am in the midst of despair and then catch a glimpse of light ahead, I will tell myself, “Okay, Celina Kay, He’s gotten you this far. Don’t fail Him now by leaving His side and stepping into the falsehood that you can now figure life out on your own.” And somewhere along the line, I do just what I warn myself against. Even if I pursue Him with everything that I have for a period of time, somewhere along the road, something changes and I find excuses to let my heart wander.
This is why I am seeing that sometimes God has to stop us in our paths, just for our own good. He’ll close doors or allow us to fall by our own choices. And when this happens, it can hurt. I know that I can be found questioning God or even becoming angry with him when things go awry. He does this for specific reasons and I will say it again, our own good.
I am coming to see that there is something magical that happens when I am in pain and how much God uses the times when I hit rock bottom to bring me closer to Him. This is where I find true satisfaction and contentment. When I allow God to hold all of my broken pieces, I am able to experience Him in the deepest of ways and He is able to work on my stubborn heart. The humility that I experience in my brokenness paves a way for God’s beauty to shine abundantly.
Therefore, it is when I am experiencing unimaginable pain AND in times of incredible joy that I desire for my heart to always be true to and glued to Him.
Run to Him and surrender, silly heart of mine, and never resist when you feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper into Him.
P.S. As if going through a near death experience didn’t make this trip exciting enough, we also had to wander around and get a little lost as we searched for the California/Nevada state line. When we first arrived to the area that contained a marked portion of the line, we asked a security lady for directions to the site and then off we went to each have our own A Walk to Remember moment. Well, the lady’s directions weren’t very clear so we ended up venturing into the forest and taking about a twenty minute off-trial hike until a few of my friends, who had walked back to the car 5 minutes into our hike, called to let us know that we had already driven over the line on our way up. Oh boy, did we feel silly as we hiked back to the cars! Still, I say that this trip wouldn’t have been half as much fun if we hadn’t of gone on these wacky adventures together.