Every day should be this beautiful.
A ship begins its voyage under a sky so blue and cloudless that I am not quite sure where the sea ends and the sky begins. Nothing about this day is foreboding. Nothing about the way the sun shines predicts the massive storm just a few miles ahead. Nothing about this placid ocean water indicates that the waters ahead have the power to change everything peaceful about this moment.
Such is life and so are the moments that simultaneously mark the end and the beginning of an era. And just as these moments will always be referred to between the words “before” and “after”, this defining event–this shipwreck–will be like a ghostly underwater relic that you will either choose to dwell in or find the way out.
Today I turn 43. And….
….to my detriment, I constantly and habitually refer to life with a mental illness as being “shipwrecked”. It’s automatic at this point. I hear myself say it, but don’t even realize I’m saying it sometimes. I usually only say it to my sister in heart-to-hearts about life and God and the future. It is my description of choice.
In my mind, it is the best depiction of a journey cut short; a voyage diverted. That’s what it has felt like for too long.
But things are good. I wouldn’t say I’m locked under water, inside the skeleton ship. But I would say I swim around it like a curious diver who observes how the overgrown moss has overtaken every object within and without that was once valuable. That’s what it’s like when you live with chronic mental illness and debilitating depression for decades and then it subsides.
You revisit the wreckage and stand in awe at how you made it out alive.
It’s so much easier to believe in the fact of the wreckage than in God’s presence in the storm sometimes. But this is where I stop and say, “Lord, help my unbelief”.
For an unshakable faith to take root in the heart, it often vacillates between faith and unbelief, and truth and falsehood; it will stubbornly grapple with the inescapable realization of absolutism and God’s sovereignty.
Peter tripped over stones of unbelief long before he became the rock on which the church was built.
After years of championing the cause of atheism, it took a night of openhearted discussions on doctrine and the love of God with his good friend Tolkien to bring C. S. Lewis from no faith to faith.
John Newton was a wanton sailor who served God on and off, usually when he came close to death, only to turn his back once more. Yet, his faith took root on the rocky waters on which he penned “Amazing Grace” – a changed man who wrote history-changing verses.
It’s those paradigm shifting moments where the eyes of faith truly see once the clutter of sin and the material world subside. Jesus shines as bright as He has always been shining. He stands upon the roaring waters as calmly as He did in the storm, seeing you, seeing your ship on it’s voyage, seeing the possibility of a shipwreck, and He extends His hand offering a peace that surpasses all understanding. I say ‘you’, but I’m speaking to me….
The end of the journey has yet to unravel. The work of God to anchor my faith and root it in the unshakable Christ, that continues within His time frame, not mine,
BUT because I have this anchor firm and secure….(Hebrews 6:19)…“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages” (Charles H. Spurgeon).
Perception is just that: perception, not truth.
The destiny of the ship is still unknown but Hope walks on water — the outcome is in good hands.