Treading Water

May 3, 2014

I like to understand people, to know where they’re coming from and how they see the world.  I like to study deep into their worldview.

But sometimes I fall in.


Standing on the edge of someone else’s views, I see the dart and glimmer of light reflected in their perspective.  Leaning too far, I lose my footing on my own firm foundation and plunge into the depths.

The cold hits me like a shock.

I cannot tell what is up or down, only that this isn’t my familiar world, and I’m drowning in it.  I thrash, groping for the light.  Finally I break surface.  I can see the land again, and the sun shining down, but most of me is still trapped beneath, kicking, while I tread water and try to get my bearings.

Eventually God always pulls me out.  I crawl exhausted onto the bank and collapse, thankful to feel the firm ground beneath me, to know where I am and what I am about.

Sometimes I am merely grateful to be on solid ground again where I can clearly see the sun.

But usually I bring back treasures from the deep – gems of wisdom to delight in, that will adorn my soul to reflect the light more brightly.

There are some people who never venture close enough to fall in at all.  And there are some people who enjoy this kind of swimming and are natural at it, and happily explore far from shore.  Not I.  It’s cathartic when it’s over, but terrifying in the midst.  I like the security of the earth beneath my feet, a firm vantage point from which to study the world.

God knows I need an occasional dunking, though!  A faith that grows is a faith that’s always learning, not afraid of getting one’s feet wet with earnest study of God’s truth.  And sometimes He needs us to move on to other islands, and we won’t do it without a little push.

I don’t mean that anyone should flounder haplessly from one conviction to another, like “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). I mean that, by God’s grace, my feet are usually firmly fixed on what I believe.  I consider that blessed assurance one of God’s spiritual gifts to me.  But once in a rare while, a small doubt will poke a hole in my certainty. When that happens, I feel like the universe just crumbled around my ears, because my faith is like a comprehensive system, and if one tiny cog gets knocked too far out of place, sometimes all the other wheels spin helplessly until it’s fixed, or replaced by a better one.

That’s not how it should be.  Ideally my faith should be built like any good skyscraper in earthquake-prone California – designed to withstand a good, hard shaking.  I should be able to reexamine strongly held convictions on small matters without despairing that I might have to question big matters too. But no matter how steadfast one’s faith is, in this life we weak sinners all have moments of doubt.

Above all our slips and falls, God is trustworthy and true.  Even under the surface of the water I can see the light, and I know He can “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” when I cry out to Him.

All this is sort of where I was this week.  I wandered onto the blog of an author I vehemently disagree with on a number of major issues, found their stance on the Bible intriguing, looked at things from their perspective, and – whoop! – in I fell.  I spent a good while treading water, choking, spluttering, blinking water out of my eyes, and hunting for a spot to clamber back up to the bank…if there was one.

I found it.  But clinging to the shore like a wet cat is not a good place to blog from, or formulate coherent thoughts. So I have nothing substantial to say this weekend.

The sun is warm and good.  I’m thankfully soaking up the rays, waiting for the watery lake-sludge to strain out between my fingers, watching to see if that glitter of sand might be gold.

I’ll let you know if I found any treasures!


Do you ever struggle with doubts about your view of God or His Word, or perhaps His very existence?  Is it rare or often for you?  How has God brought you back safe to shore again in His grace?


  1. I like your analogy on how our faith should be like a building in CA – able to withstand a good shaking!
    I also think that there are some people who dive in and never find their way out, and live in a fake world where they aren’t who they think they are. I think it’s good to come to the bank often. 🙂

    • I think anyone who is truly in Christ will ultimately withstand any shaking, because we rest on a foundation of solid rock in Him! But we can definitely be rattled around, and I mean a strong faith is one that not only remains standing, but also resists the rattling.

      Interesting thought. Do you mean some people pretend to have a different perspective than they have? Wouldn’t that just mean their perspective changed? I’m not sure how what you’re saying fits in my analogy. Can you explain more? 🙂

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