15 Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Psalm 69
Water rushed over me and my heels whacked the back of my head, almost knocking me out. Through the sting of salt water, I barely made out the sunlight through the murky, foamy green – my only chance to take a breath inches away, yet helplessly out of my reach. Then I was flipped over and over by the tide. I lost sight of the light.
That was my first and only experience body surfing. I emerged back on the beach, gasping, to join the others who were laughing loudly, relaying their experiences in escalating joy. Every part of me cried out in pain. I wasn’t meant to be a pretzel, or face death at 17. But no one knew. I laughed along with them, hiding my trembling hands and hoping nobody heard my thudding heart.
Perhaps that is where you are right now – flooded over, swallowed up and closed over. I doubt if anyone over the age of ten has not felt totally out of control and scared. Circumstances can rush over you and pin you down. Dark depressive moods can sneak up and swallow you whole sending you sliding down into a light-less place like Jonah in the belly of the whale. Helplessness can totally encase you and paralyze you. But there is hope – a light shining vaguely out of reach. Can you see that light, or have you been flipped over so it is out of view? Just because you have lost sight of it, doesn’t mean is not still there.
Roller coaster and thrill rides are designed to give you an adrenaline rush. You are temporarily out of control, but still safe. Something deep inside you tells you there is someone in control and it will soon be over, you will be back on the boardwalk or pavement eating cotton candy and laughing. But life is not that sure a thing, or is it?
David, who wrote this psalm, obviously knew what it was like to be overwhelmed. Most likely he was hiding in a cave from Saul’s armies. But he also knew there was someone in control – God. In the roller coaster of life, we, too, can have that confidence. It won’t last forever and soon we will be back on solid ground, even if we have temporarily lost sight of the Light, He is still there.
I learned that in a cove south of Acapulco. I knew nothing else than God lifted me back onto the shore while I still had air in my lungs. He had been in control of this little Texas gal on that school sponsored trip so many decades ago. He still is.