When We Walk
I am not a little afraid of water. I’ve been on a few boats in my life, but while everyone else on board is having a great time, I’m working rescues in my mind. What if a pontoon falls off and I fall in? What if the boat tips and we all fall in? What if I sneeze too hard and fall in? I’m scared speechless of water.
Which made for a fun five years in Florida, a state surrounded on three sides by—water. You could say water and I aren’t exactly Facebook friends. Many men have tried to teach me to swim, but it would be easier to heft an overweight hippo backwards up an icy roller coaster track than to teach me to swim.
But I’m not the only one afraid of water.
In Isaiah 43, God stands at water’s edge with His arm around Israel, His people. As the sun sets, the air cools, and the wind whips up. Together they look across dark water as the chilled waves crash against their feet. In one sentence God warns and comforts His people, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.”
I wish that word was “if,” but it’s “when.” It would be great if we did the right thing the right way the right time every time, we had a shot at walking through life unscathed, but we don’t. Even if you graduate as valedictorian of your class, earn a 5.0 through Harvard, and design a new social media app that makes Instagram look like a grainy Polaroid, you will walk through the water. I’m sorry.
But there is peace in this promise. When you walk through the water, God will be with you.
God Himself stood with His arm around His people, pointed to the water, and said, “When you walk through the waters, I will be with you.” Faith is not believing we won’t walk through the water; it’s believing we won’t walk through the water alone.
As I’ve lived life, I can’t help but wonder how deep the water is for God’s young church. From that first doctor’s visit, you’ve been walking through the water. Since you got the call from that your mom and dad are splitting up, you’ve been walking through the water.
Since the day the landlord or the bank told you your home is now their home, you’ve been walking through the water. Since the accident changed your life, you’ve been walking through the water. Since the day you buried a brother or sister, you’ve been walking through the water. Since the day someone you loved broke your heart, you’ve been walking through the water. I wish you didn’t have to walk through the water, but you don’t have to walk through the water alone.
The One who knows your name and formed you with His nail-scarred hands will walk with you. When you walk through the water, don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope. Don’t let go of your faith. Lift up your eyes above the waves to the One who walks on the waves. When you walk through the water, you will not walk alone.
You might count yourself out because you’re walking through water you shouldn’t be walking through. You’ve been trying to swim back to shore, but the waves of regret keep washing you back out to condemnation. Why would God help you? You’re the reason you’re in the water.
So was Israel. All through Isaiah 42, God wanted to walk with them, but they walked away from Him and into deeper water. Although they turned their backs on Him, He never turned His back on them. That’s a faithful God to a faithless people. They suffered dearly for their sin, but God was with them through every crashing wave to make sure they didn’t walk through the water alone.
Don’t allow Satan to condemn you because of your past. You’re not proud of it, but you can’t change it. But you can ask God to forgive you for it and ask Him to give you a brand-new beginning. Sometimes we walk through the water because of sin; sometimes we walk through the water just because of life. Either way, we won’t walk through the water alone.
God with us will always be with us.
L.J. Harry is Andrea’s husband, Makenna and Raylee’s daddy, and the pastor of Apostolic Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Since 2011, he has served as editor of InsideOut.