Even There Your Hand Will Guide Me
When I was I think around 10 years old, I got pinned to the ocean floor by a powerful wave. The force of the water took my scrawny frame by surprise and, although I was a strong swimmer, I wasn’t strong or ocean-savvy enough to figure out how to get out from under all the pressure of that uncharacteristically big wave.
We had gone to Santa Cruz for the day with our cousins. Normally, the waves in front of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk aren’t a big deal. We’d all spent tons of time in the ocean together before and, thus, our parents felt fine about letting us swim unsupervised in the water. While me, my big brothers, and my two cousins body surfed the humble waves, my mom and aunt went for a walk on the beach. That’s how confident they were in our abilities to navigate the water.
At one point, while Mom and Aunt Ruth were on their walk, they happened to notice an especially large wave crash down. They nonchalantly commented to one another about how big it was. “I hope none of the kids got caught in that one,” my mom apparently said to my aunt. Not genuinely worried, however, they kept walking at their normal pace.
Little did they know that both my 9-year-old cousin Anna and I had, in fact, gotten “caught in that one.”
I don’t exactly know how it happened. Usually I just dove through waves that I wasn’t planning to body surf. But either I had my back to the waves (a huge no-no at the beach) or I didn’t time my body surfing right. Whatever the cause, I found myself being tossed around under the water, flipping over and over until I was finally pinned to the ground, unable to get myself back to the surface.
I remember being stuck there and, every time I tried to get to the top again to get a much-needed breath, I got slammed again and dragged by a new wave or flipped around by the rip current.
Everything was blurry under water. I was totally discombobulated from being tossed around so much. I had no idea which direction was the shore and which way was the deeper water. If it weren’t for my back being clearly pressed into the sandy ground, with waves continuously pummeling me, I wouldn’t have known which way was up.
Thus, I was stuck, with my back on the ocean floor, looking up at the sky beyond the sea level, unable to breathe, panic setting in.
But as I looked up, I saw a bright light and then felt myself being lifted up by strong hands. When I got to the surface, I gasped for breath, desperate for oxygen again. Completely weak and unable to help myself, I felt my body being placed on the sandy beach and the one who had rescued me immediately dove back into the water. A moment later, he brought my cousin Anna to my side. Everything was still a bit blurry, but I noticed that my rescuer seemed to be about my dad’s age and had a mop of bright red hair.
“Are you okay?” he asked us both. We nodded, crying as soon as we had the lung capacity to do so. Without even speaking, Anna and I held each other tight, realizing with sobriety how close we had both come to death.
After maybe a minute or two, Anna and I had our wits about us again and started looking around for our redheaded rescuer— but he was nowhere to be found. Our moms got back right about then and we told them what had happened. Soon, our whole crew was looking around for the redheaded man. We wanted to thank him.
But the craziest thing was: we couldn’t find him anywhere. And I’ll tell you what— hair like that on a grown man would have been hard to miss— even in a place like the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on a sunny summer day.
I have no idea what happened that day or who that man was— maybe he was an angel, or maybe he was God Himself, or maybe he was just some random dude who left the beach right after saving the lives of two young girls— I will never know. But I do know this:
God was with me there in that water.
He saw me. And He cared about me.
No matter where I go; no matter how irresponsible or naive or ridiculous I am; no matter how scared or paralyzed or helpless I feel; no matter how many people do or don’t see me— God is with me. God sees me. God cares about me. And He will do whatever He needs to do to let me know that He loves me and He is watching out for me.
I don’t know what you are going through right now. I don’t know how scared or helpless or out-of-breath you feel. I don’t know how heartbroken or frustrated or lonely you feel. But with all my heart I know that God knows. And He sees. And He cares. And He loves you.
Even when life doesn’t go the way we planned. Even when redheaded men don’t come to help us. Even when things are only seeming to get worse. He really is there, you guys. And He really does care. And I don’t now how, but somehow He will come and help you through even this.
I can’t help myself. I’ve experienced God too many times to not believe it. I’ve experienced Him in the times of rescue and I’ve even experienced Him in the times where He didn’t answer me or come to me the way I had hoped. Like when I lost my unborn baby. Or when my parents divorced. Or when I was violated as a small child.
He’s been there through it all. And even though there are times that have felt darker and hurt deeper than anything I could have imagined, I still know this:
God is with me.
And He is with you, too, dear friend.
I pray that today you will believe it. And take His hand. And follow His lead to whatever sandy shore He is taking you to. And let Him love you. And let Him tend to your wounds and heal you. And let Him astound you with His goodness and His capability and His unending, unfailing love.
“The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.” ~Psalm 116:6~
“With you, Lord, is unfailing love.” ~Psalm 62:12~
“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” ~Psalm 139:9-10~
**If you would like to take some deep breaths, reconnect with God, and discover how beloved YOU are, I highly encourage you to pop over to Bonnie Gray’s site and pre-order her new book “Whispers of Rest.” And, just so you know, there are some awesome bonus items (including a super-cute necklace!) for a limited number of folks who order early!
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What about you?
Can you recall a time you knew beyond a doubt that God was with you and that He cared about you? Was there ever a time you were out in nature and you felt God touch your heart?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.