February is a struggle for me. There are many reasons for this but the most honest is that somewhere in the very dark recesses of my brain, February brings up the scars of one bad February years ago. The front part of my brain has forgiven, has been forgiven, has moved on. Anniversary effect is the arthritis of the soul, flaring up at “that time” each year. It has gotten better, but it still comes around. Every year I plan to get through February with a better attitude and with more faith, and although it happens every year I am always surprised at how much I end up having to fight to keep my head above water.
I have a mental picture of “keeping my head above the water”. A solitary figure, out in the stone-gray ocean, thrashing and treading water as the waves crash over again and again. Going under, coming up again, fighting the waves with all your strength. Wave after wave, hour after hour. All your will and might and fury, beating at full speed to keep yourself afloat.
To stay afloat. All that struggle, all that power going out in all directions, all the force that a human can put out…against the vast gray ocean, stretching out in all directions. Against the waves, which push forth endlessly and do not grow weary until they spend themselves against the rocks of distant shores. The swimmer has no chance, it is not a matter of “if” you will give out but “when”.
And when you do give out? When the fury is spent, when exhaustion wipes away all your will and your limbs relax in resignation, when you close your eyes and roll over onto your back, arms outstretched and face to the sky? When you stop fighting and surrender, it’s then that you realize. Faith floats. Arms spread wide, you feel yourself lifted up. Held aloft on the surface of the water. Carried along on the top of the waves.
The peace of surrender….it is so often the last thing I seek when I am fighting life’s storms. And yet it’s when our will breaks that God can move, it’s when we give up our struggle to do it alone and turn our face upward that we remember the One who lifts us in His hand, whose rest and deliverance we can rely on. Faith floats, when the will gives in and allows peace to replace struggle…even in the storm.
The words of Psalm 46 work their way into the dark places of my mind….
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)
Be still, and know that I am God…. (Psalm 46:10)
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day. (Psalm 46:4-5)
Be still, and know that I am God…
Stop fighting and surrender your will. Allow the storm to pass. Give Him the job of keeping you afloat. When your will is spent, His can finally be at work.
Lord, I surrender my struggles to you. In the midst of the storm, help me remember that Faith floats.
Photo from Homestead stock photography