Worship & Rescue

There were many pranks we took great delight in as youngsters, tricks that make kids oh-so-happy.

Here’s one: take a small scrap of paper and fold a corner of it down, lick the back and stick it to your fancily wallpapered dining room; it will appear as though someone has torn the navy florals and your mom’s face will turn a shade of red that even the bulls in Pamplona are unfamiliar with.

Another Martin favorite was the ol’ wrap a rubber band around the sink sprayer; the victim turns on the faucet for a drink of water and gets an impromptu shower.  (This will backfire when you get a 5am wake up call from a tired, and soaking suit clad dad. Whoops.)

We liked pranks, but we loved illusions…
Seperating our thumbs terrified our tiny toddler brothers, invisible ink always wowed the crowd, and every volunteer marveled when we asked them to step into our kitchen doorway and press the backs of their wrists against the wooden frame.  After a slow count to thirty, we would ask them to step out of the doorway, and their arms would ‘magically’ float up effortlessly.

I thought of this door trick while worshipping not long ago, standing small under looming eaves with my hands in the air.

I often wish the posture of worship was effortless.  

Not that the physical effort of lifting my palms to the heavens is so taxing, it’s the inner posture of my heart that needs the floating arms.
I can stand emotion-filled for three or four Hillsong renditions and close my eyes and raise my hands and meet with Him.  Twelve or so minutes of intimacy and adoration.
But 1,440 minutes of meeting with him? Crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ for whole days, start to finish?
My arms are tired after twelve.

I’ve been swinging my limbs at Him wildly as of late, but not because I’m lost in passionate worship, I’m lost at sea and trying frantically to catch His attention.

As I thrash in what feels unchartered, believing the lie that He’s never swum that far out, my only concern is being drug back to shore.

My concern is not pausing to tread so I can find time to worship or time to find Him walking atop the waves He’s rocking by hand, my concern is shooting off flares and punching through the surface as I sink beneath so that He will come and save.

Surely I’m not safe here in this ocean.
I must be saved.
Surely I can’t be saved while in the water.
Safety will only come when my feet are sandy and my back is flat and my breathing slows.
I’m sure of it.

What a captive audience the enemy has in an unsteady girl up to her eyeballs in thundering currents and crashing foam.

While worshipping again last night beneath the tall beams and sharp eaves, my spirit flooded with images of His water works.

There were four fantastically impactful stories that came to mind where He wrought a lesson with waves.

Faithful Noah, hundreds of years old, hammered together an ark per the request of his God.
He huddled with his wife and sons and daughters-in-law (along with quite a few animals) for one hundred and fifty days as the world flooded around him… as wickedness was literally drowned out.  For months he was out to sea as God worked his washing of the world, and at 601 years old Noah stepped onto dry ground where the Lord made a rainbow-hued covenant to last for all of time.

The Israelites, having left Egypt in the great Exodus, camped near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea.
They’d already lived a life as slaves and now the entire army of Pharoah was in a heated pursuit after them.
As the fear for their lives mounted, God instructed Moses to stretch his hand out over the sea, and the Lord blew back the waters themselves and made the sea itself dry ground.  The Israelites treaded on sand while walls of water towered rippling on either side,  and they were safe.  They walked THROUGH the Red Sea to safety, and then watched their leader stretch his hand back over the water as their God brought down the walls of waves over their enemy.

Jonah. Oh Jonah.  God spoke with direction and Jonah said no. Jonah ran away and found a ship and tried to flee from the Lord. The Creator stirred up a violent storm, the weathered sailors each crying out to their own god there was so much fear in the water that raged around them. They threw Jonah in the waves at his suggestion, to appease his God.  And before he could sink to the bottom, a loving God sent a big fish to swallow him up, and there he sat, in the tuna stenched tummy of a whale. He cried prayers of thanks and praise until he was puked onto dry land to go and do what God had commanded.

Jesus & Peter.  One night after being alone on a mountainside to pray, Christ saw the boat full of his disciples pushed far away from shore by the wind, and simply strolled atop the lake to reach them.  Thinking it was a ghost, they were afraid, but He calmed them with His voice.  Peter shouted out for Jesus to tell him to come out on the water too, and Jesus said “Come.”
Though he’d watched the breakers steady under the Son’s soles, though he had asked to step out and do the same, though he could trust the One that stood without sinking, he saw the wind and gave his full attention to fear and began to fall through the choppy surface. Jesus reached out His hand to save His submerged beloved, asking why he would doubt.
When they both climbed in the boat, the disciples lifted praises with a strengthened sense of faith in the Son of God.

The waves are different for all of us- heartbreak, death, loss, fear, doubt, pain, illness, loneliness…
The fears wrangled inside the enemy’s curled fingers that push us off the dock or out of the boat are just the blinders he’ll use to keep us from seeing salvation while we toss in deep sweeping swells.

There is safety at sea.
We just don’t get to choose how we’re saved.

Flag Him down with your flailing feet as your face is flipped toward the very bottom of the dark ocean, waste all of your energy on kicking and screaming, and the enemy who’s drug you under grins wide.

But turn up and tread, knowing He’s not only on His way, He’s already there… and the enemy is defeated again by a God whose business is one of walking on water.

I’m overwhelmed.  I’m heavy and tired and worn.
I’ve struggled to lift my hammer at His command without knowing the fullness of what was coming, I’ve struggled to watch Him flood and believe that life will spring again.
I’ve struggled to believe slavery’s not the final word… I’ve writhed with fear at the enemy in hot pursuit.
I’ve said ‘No’ when His direction towards what He wants, and so far from what I want, has been made clear.
I’ve begged of Him to call me to come only to watch the wind instead of training my eyes to match His gaze and step with assurance; and I’ve fallen farther than down, I’ve fallen under.

And out of His grace, whether my arms raise out of desperation to survive or with praise for His name, He’ll save.

He is not waiting to meet us and save us until we can kick with meager strength our way to shore.

And whether it’s in a monstrous boat or through a grand hallway of towering seas or in the insides of a fish or by His tight grip, His plan has always been and always is and will always be one of saving and of safety.

Forget the shore, and know, trust, that He’s not a God that stows Himself away in lighthouses, He’s a God who stands firm in storms. INSIDE of storms.

Breathe deep.
Stop panicking.
Lift your weak arms, lift them almost effortlessly, for He will provide a strength beyond illusion, then He’ll grab those wet hands and lift you up and out.
And if for longer than you like you stay in the sea, there He will be with you.
The waves can be as safe as the shore, the rollicking surf can prove to be just as good a space as any to know His strength and praise His name… sometimes much much moreso.

The God of miraculous rescue hasn’t turned in His captain’s hat.  Don’t believe for one minute that He doesn’t know how scary your sea is right now.  Don’t believe for one minute that help’s not only on it’s way… it’s arrived.

Now, raise your hands.  

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Exodus 14: 13 & 14


One Response

  1. Kate, not even sure if you remember me or not, from First Assembly AGES ago…but it’s a small world and somehow I found your blog. 🙂 I just wanted to thank you for this…as far as themes go, this is mine. God has shouted this to my heart in my pain…storms, the sea, nautical everything. When I started working at J. Crew I wasn’t even into anchors…now they are all I see and want to surround myself with. It’s like a little thing between God and me…and it’s beautiful. So I just wanted to say thanks. This was exactly what I needed to hear.

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