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Scuba

An acquaintance of mine asked me recently what I’ve been
doing this summer. This shouldn’t be a tough question. I mean, isn’t this a kid’s
favorite essay topic upon returning to school in the fall? Yet for me, the
question was a challenging one. My acquaintance seemed puzzled by my reaction
as I struggled to produce a list of activities that sounded good. After a few
awkward moments and my acquaintance looking as though she were sorry she’d
asked, I told her the truth: I’ve been deep sea diving.

My husband introduced me to the delights of snorkeling on
our honeymoon 17 years ago. In exchange for very little risk (you wear a life
jacket and float on top of the water), snorkeling offers you a little glimpse
of heaven. Beneath tropical waters lies a breathtakingly beautiful new world
where colorful fish, plants, and creatures live and play. I was so enamored
with snorkeling that when my husband suggested deep sea diving, I said no,
thank you. I preferred floating on top of the water where I had a ready source
of oxygen and was close to shore should a shark decide to ruin my fun.

My husband accepted my refusal, but this summer, God didn’t.
He decided I was ready to dive.  Deep sea
diving requires that you wear a heavy air tank that helps you descend into the
depths and is also rather essential for breathing. This spring is when I
noticed that I started to feel weighed down. A number of troubling new physical
symptoms appeared and some that I’ve been familiar with grew worse. I convinced
myself that I could hold my breath until I reached the surface in a few days.
But before long I had to admit I was continuing to descend and needed another
source of air.

Frankly, my devotional life had become like snorkeling. I
would take God’s Word in with a short tube, but I never kept my face in the
water for long. But now that the weight of illness had me sinking further and
further into the dark and murky depths, I was desperate. I began praying
fervently, reading and studying my Bible, and taking in a neglected devotional:
Streams in the Desert. Streams in the Desert told me that I was diving and why.
God had weighed me down and was keeping me in the depths so that I might find
pearls.

I’ve never been a huge fan of pearls, especially because you
can buy an imitation strand for next to nothing. But when it comes to pearls of
wisdom, I soon learned that God thought I had chosen cheap imitations long
enough. My fake pearls were the healing advice of those who denied God. This
worldly wisdom couldn’t withstand the pressure I was now under. As my symptoms
drew me into deeper, murkier waters, the more fervently I searched for answers
that would return me to a healthy life on shore. I was really glad when I found
those first few real pearls. God showed me some of the reasons for my illness
and I made some significant changes. I waited to begin ascending to the
surface. But it didn’t happen. I continued to breathe in what God had to say in
the Bible and I continued to search for pearls. Every time I found another
precious bit of wisdom, I would be certain my ascent back to good health would
begin. But it didn’t.

I am so thankful my dive hasn’t been entirely solitary.
God has never left my side and every so often, my husband, family, and friends dive down to encourage me and
send up prayers on my behalf. So many times I have thought I was done
collecting pearls. I would have been happy collecting enough for a ring, but
God apparently has me stringing together a long necklace! One thing I do know:
I am not just enriching myself. As I search for the answers to my own health
problems, I find pearls of wisdom for loved ones who are suffering. I have
prayed for so long for so many of those whose precious pearls I am now
collecting in the depths. When I return from my dive, I am eager to share the
answers to prayer I have found.

I am still diving. I do not know how long it will be until I
return to good health. But I know that the same air tanks that brought me low
will sustain me. I know God’s dives are never too short or too long. I am so
thankful that God sent me to this fearful place. What incredible treasures I
would have missed had I stayed safely floating on the surface. Before this
summer, I was a snorkeler; now I am a deep sea diver. I do not wish illness on
anyone, but I do pray that God will draw you into a living, breathing,
life-transforming relationship with Him. If He does, then when someone asks
what you did this summer, you can smile and answer, “I went deep sea diving.”

If I go up to the
heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
(Psalm 139:8).

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