When we were in Hawaii, we spent a lot of time snorkeling in the tide pools behind our rental home. The tide pools looked rather shallow with calm waters. Even when I was sitting on the edge of the pools, it looked like the water was only a couple feet deep.
It wasn’t until I put on my goggles that I realized just how deep the water really was. In some places it was about 25 feet deep. I tried to stay close to the edges because I don’t know how to swim (I can float but I don’t know how to get my head out of the water without “drowning”). By being close to the edge, I can stand up if anything happened (leaking snorkeling gear, fogged goggles, etc.).
One time I decided to go farther out but still stayed close to the edges. After a little while, I climbed on a rock, looked around, and realized that I had ventured a good distance from the house. My husband found me and suggested that I go out towards the other side. I told him that as long as I had the rock edges then I would be fine.
I followed the rocks going in the other direction, then all of a sudden the rocks ended and I found myself in very deep water (about 15 feet deep). I frantically looked around for the rocks I had followed but I couldn’t find them. I started to panic—what if my snorkeling gear “messed up,” what was I supposed to do?
I saw my husband and he started to snorkel next to me. I wanted to hold onto him because I was afraid, so I tried to get his attention but since I couldn’t yell to him, he just kept going. I tried not to look down, but I did and I started to feel the pounding of my heart getting stronger (even now as I think about it, my heart starts to pound against my chest). I felt like I was going to hyperventilate. I had nothing in between me and that deep water—no security—no rocks to stand on.
I tried to hold my breath thinking that if I could keep the air in my lungs then I could float better, but the distance between where I was and where I had to go was too far. I took shallow breaths, praying for God to just get me through to the other side. As I waded towards the rocks at the distance, I pushed out the images of me sinking to the bottom. I tried to focus my eyes ahead of me instead of below me.
When I finally made it to “shore,” I felt shaky. The scary experience somehow reminded me of Matthew 14:29-30, “…Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!””
I realized two things: (1) God is the only Person we can rely on—when we are in scary or deep situations in life, only He can help us, and (2) We can’t let things distract us.
Peter was fine as long as he focused on Jesus, but the second he looked around, he became scared. When I was trying to get to the edge of the tide pool, I had to keep looking forward—I couldn’t look down, behind, or sideways; I had to focus and look straight ahead.
The point is, no matter what you are going through, keep your eyes on Jesus and keep going forward. Don’t let the past or the things going on in your life distract you from focusing on God.