“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1
Scuba diving has been on my bucket list long before it was called a bucket list. So when the opportunity arose to dive while on my cruise, I jumped for it.
Honduras, according to Captain Mike, is one of the “hot spots” to dive. In fact, Isla Roatan is well known in dive circles. That fact in itself made the possibility even more appealing. I was very excited that morning and eager to do something I had only dreamed. We boarded the boat, met Captain Mike, and swiftly left the pier for the dive shop.
The crisp, yellow sun danced on the aqua blue waves of Mahogany Bay. Salty ocean air tickled my nose and seasoned my lips. Along the horizon, we saw other dive boats, fishing boats, and cruise ships. It was a hectic through fare.
I could feel the excitement of the participants. I wondered if they too were experiencing jitters. Did they also have that little tremor? You know the one you feel deep in your belly when you can barely contain the erupting excitement? The boat pulled aside the wooden dock, and three young island men appeared from the small hut set back in the palms. Offering bronzed, strong hands, they helped us from the boat to the dock. Introductions all around were followed by signing forms and flipper measurements.
I continued to simmer with excitement.
Ang and I sat in the boat as it bobbed rhythmically on the lapping waves. We had been through the class, fitted with BD jackets and weight belts. Now we waited our turn to enter the blue expanse.
Flippers protruding before me, I shuffled to the boat’s aft. With the rocking of the boat shifting the weight of the tank, I was unsteady and unnerved. I followed the instructions gave and leaped into the churning depths.
There is a lot to remember when you are struggling in open water. Inflate BD, clear ears, stay vertical, breath in and out in the regulator only and do not drown. I hit the deflate button on the BD jacket, and in a fury of bubbles, I began to sink beneath the water’s surface. Expectedly, my ears felt the pressure change, and as I was instructed, I cleared my ears.
Now it was time for my skills test. I was to remove my regulator, blow bubbles out of my mouth, and reinsert the mouthpiece.
Attempt 1- FAIL
Attempt 3-Success but then panic
The last attempt- Deflate BD, sink beneath the waves, clear regulator, and ears.
The weighted belt drew me further into the depths. Around me nothing but blue. I immediately wondered what lurked behind the blue? My tremors of excitement were becoming a simmering fear.
Clutching the rope that stretched between the world above and the world beneath, I felt the sea exert her pressure. My lungs felt compressed, my ears began to ring. Above me, the sun’s light and warmth faded. Nothing but blue closed around me. Cooler water rose from beneath me spreading ribbons of cold around my legs. It traveled deliberately, steadily up my body. The pressure increased, and my ears hurt, sharp stabbing pain in the left. I waved to the instructor, pointed to my ears, and he did the sign to clear them once again. I tried to relieve my discomfort. No luck, the piercing pain continued.
My body continued to sink with the weight around my middle.
Between the pain, fear, fading light, and creeping cold, I began to panic. I tried one more time to clear, pinching my nose and swallowing but this time the mask creased and the ocean flooded into my mask. Instinctively, I held my breath. The instructor tried to calm me, but panic was driving now. Hand over hand, I pulled myself up the rope kicking with all I had. A flipper came off, but I barely noticed as I clawed my way back to air, light, and warmth. I broke the surface and tore the mask and regulator off. I greedily inhaled all the air my lungs could hold.
When I look back over my life at my many failings and spiritual pitfalls, there is a common denominator, fear. Fear robs us of joy and peace. It causes us to buckle under the pressure and settle for less than God’s best for us. I allowed my fear to take over, and I reacted in panic.
Others on the excursion completed the test and descended to 40 feet and glided along the sandy bottom. They trusted the process, themselves, and the instructor. They did not let fear rule the situation.
Fear is a repulsive force. It can exert pressure on you and whisper things in your mind. Allowing it a foothold, it conjures up imaginings and doubt. There is no place for fear in a Believer’s heart.
I wish this story ended with me gearing back up and with determination descending to 40 feet and swimming victory laps around the coral bed, but it does not. Instead, I climbed back on board defeated, disappointed.
Fear keeps you trapped. Keeps you from opportunities and experiences. Fear does all these things, but you do not have to allow it. Ultimately, fear answers to you. Reject it, rebuke it and never let it rule you.
Trust in Him and deny fear.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Typist for Jesus
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