This December, we drove down to a beach resort in Malaysia for a break. As the kids took a nap after the long drive, I sat for a while in the balcony of our 9th floor hotel room. The room had a spectacular view of the beach! As I sat watching the waves, I was surprised to see a family wander far out into the waves – much further than I would have thought it to be safe. They seemed to be enjoying it and were completely confident. I was told that the tide was low and in these beaches, especially at this time, the undercurrents are weak and the water is shallow for a long distance. Unlike some of the beaches I’ve visited, one could actually go in quite a bit without any fear of drowning!
As I watched, I wondered whether I would be able to place my trust in the sea and go deeper in than I normally would. What if my daughter runs in fearlessly and it suddenly gets deep? What if the current isn’t actually all that weak? Is it worth taking that risk? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? I love the sea but I have always been aware of its power and my lack of control while in the water. As I fought this battle in my mind, I was reminded of my year-long struggle to trust God completely with the unknown. I was reminded of one of my favourite songs from last year – ‘Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)’. The first line of the song goes like this:
“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail!”
I have a confession to make: I am a control freak of sorts! I do not need to have everything in my life sorted out, but I am wary of the unknown and have this incessant need to know what to expect. I find it difficult to trust and let go completely. But I am slowly learning to surrender everything to the Lord and trust Him even when I cannot feel the ground beneath me. I am overwhelmed by how powerless I am and how much I need Him.
My husband and I, long before we got married, committed our lives to serving God wherever He would call us to, even if it meant leaving a stable job. My dream since my childhood has been to work among the underprivileged in remote places. Over the past few years, we have often discussed the possibility of moving to a vulnerable place of being fully dependent on God for finances. We’ve talked about praying for guidance, for courage to obey and humility to leave all we know and are good at, if He calls us out into the unknown ‘where feet may fail’.
I have to admit that my husband does almost all of the praying and I do the worrying and doubting. I honestly didn’t expect to find it so hard to pray this prayer from my heart – after all this has been my dream and, in the passion of my youth, I was ready to pack up and leave at any minute. But now I struggle to depend on God completely. How do I pray about going into the unknown with a two-year old and an infant? What if there is no medical care available or no money for it? Even with my husband currently getting a fairly decent income, we still struggle financially. But I cling on to the comfort of knowing that, no matter how tough the month has been, as the next month begins, we will have enough to meet our needs. I am indebted to the Lord, for I know without a doubt that this is His providence, but I find it hard to hold on to this assurance when I have to trust Him without a salary and in a place I have no knowledge of.
Through the last year, God has been revealing to me the foolishness of my heart when I trust in myself more than in Him. He has been reminding me that, because of His nature, because of who He is, I can fully trust Him, regardless of external circumstances. 1 Timothy 2:13 says ‘if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself’. I take great comfort in knowing that through my struggle with dependence, one thing will remain – He will continue to be faithful, because that is who He is!
My favourite lines in the song reminds me of God’s sovereignty over my life and His abundant grace.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
I am grateful that His abundant grace is sufficient for me – in my weakness and my struggles. And even as I fall again and again, He picks me up and holds my hand, teaching me to trust in Him and not in myself. I am grateful that the Lord is "slow to anger and abounding in mercy and steadfast love" (Exodus 34:6). I make a mess when I try to be in control but can rest in the knowledge that the One who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies in all their splendour, who knows each star by name, who controls nature and the galaxies, He is the One in control of our lives. Not a hair from our heads falls without His knowledge. I am grateful for the assurance that "all the days ordained for me (and my family) were written in His book before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139:16). I am thankful that He has surrounded me with a great cloud of witnesses, in His word and in my life, and these witnesses, fixing their eyes on Jesus, have brought Him much glory as they trusted and obeyed Him beyond the borders of their comfort and security!
And so even as I start the new year and continue to grow in dependence on the Lord and in obedience, fixing my eyes on the ‘founder and perfecter of my faith’, I make this song my prayer.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
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