Monday, August 13, 2018

Sinking Sand

A few weeks after my Dad passed away, I stumbled upon a story about a woman who had found herself stuck in quicksand near the Santa Barbara area. We’ve had some pretty wild weather in California. Massive downpours followed by blistering heat had created a perfect scenario for the unexpected to occur at the base of a dried out riverbed. She was just walking along and all of a sudden, she was stuck and the Earth began to swallow her up. She was rescued…but even those who came to help her began to sink before successfully pulling her to safety.

I’d pretty much had forgotten about the story as fast as I heard it, which has been kind of the norm since my world changed on June 19th. Two days after Father’s Day, I received a call at work that has changed my family and my life forever. However, there was no “wild weather.” We had just had a beautiful day enjoying the family on Sunday. It was the first time we were all in one place for such a long time. My Dad was happy and had just been told he could take a few months off from seeing his doctors. He was really close to completing a long standing business matter, and was starting to plan for what he and my Mom would do after it was settled. And then, just like that, it felt like the Earth below us began to turn to mush and swallow us up.

I hadn’t thought of the story of the woman in the quicksand until I was in the midst of needing to grab hold of the only One that could rescue me during a momentary ‘sinking fast’ feeling: the Holy Spirit. I was listening to one of my favorite worship leaders sing:

I won’t win this battle with the strength of my own hands
You’re the Mountain Mover, and only You can
I won’t build my life on sinking sand
You’re my hope forever, the Rock where I stand

The one thing that has become so clear to me during the last 2 months is my complete and total dependence on God. When people ask me, “How are you doing this?” My answer is clear, “It’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit in me.” I’ve heard people say that before. Shoot, I’ve heard ME say it! But I have never in my life felt so comforted during a time of complete and utter turmoil. And the reason I have never felt so comforted…because I’ve never in my life experienced grief this raw. The loss of a parent is hard. But witnessing the loss of a spouse so up-close and personal…I will never in my life be able to understand it until, perhaps, I experience it myself. But oh, how it has made me love my God all the more…for His Word says all throughout it how important it is to care for the widow…it’s like He “gets” it.

Hearing the words to this worship song led me to Matthew 7:24-27 which then led me to a new obsession with quicksand …so of course I googled it. I thought it was interesting that some of the tips for getting out of literal quicksand can also help when you find yourself in life with that sinking feeling.

According to Wikihow, here are some ways to get out of quicksand:
  • Drop Everything. The more you carry, the more it weighs you down and the faster you sink and get stuck.
It’s no surprise that God gave me the words “let go” at the onset of 2018. If there is one thing I have learned since my Dad’s passing is that I need to feel okay with letting stuff go so the important stuff…like getting through the next seconds...minutes…hours of the day when all hell is breaking loose, can happen. It’s made me acutely aware that not everything needs to happen right now and that holding onto some things could actually impede me in certain situations. 
  • Move horizontally. Try to move backwards. Taking a big step forward may get you stuck deeper.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to take matters into my own hands when I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Especially if that territory involves possibly being stuck somewhere. Fight or flight can move in fast...but if I can stop myself from making sudden moves, take a step back and re-evaluate, I find that I’m better able to move forwards only after taking a step backwards. 
  • Lay back and create a bigger footprint by allowing yourself to float. Yes, do the exact thing that sounds absolutely crazy. Lay yourself back and allow your body to float above the very thing trying to suck you in.
This is probably the one that is SO against common sense. You’re standing waste deep in a pool of yuck and they say to lay back into it?! I mean, this isn’t a pile of fresh cut leaves or a bath of warm water…this is laying back in the muck and mire. The thing that hits me about this is rather than it taking you over, you take IT over by not getting sucked into it’s crazy. Oh, so many times in life I either fight like crazy or try running away when all I needed to do is lay back and let myself float above the muck.
  • Take your time. Relax. Don’t make sudden moves. Don’t panic. Quicksand is not usually very deep. It’s the fast moves and the panic that makes people sometimes injure themselves. It’s very rare that someone dies from quicksand.
Like many things in life that we panic about or in…it’s temporary. It won’t kill us. It may suck for a minute, but it’s not forever. In fact, the act of panicking is what can actually injure you, or in some cases, an innocent bystander.
  • Use a stick. This is how the rescuers got the woman out of the quicksand in Santa Barbara. It makes sense…it’s better to send a stick in than another, heavy human body. You don’t want to pull someone else in and get them stuck too. The stick is wedged under you as you lean back and almost serves as a buoy.
The idea made me think that it serves us well to grab a walking stick for the journey so we are already prepared for any quicksand situation we might find ourselves in. 

This last thought is where I found myself again at Matthew 7:24-27:

24 Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

I can make the choice ahead of time to build my life on the solid rock foundation of Jesus. When the winds and the waves come, I won’t have to think about the fact that I’m getting swallowed up by the world. I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to take matters into my own hands. I can literally lay back and feel what I need to feel at the timing in which I need to feel it. I can know that I’m going to float above it and eventually feel the firm foundation again.

Today’s Forecast: A new journey with the potential of sinking sand.
Silver Lining: On Christ, the solid rock I stand.