The image first came to me in a guided meditation when I was in seminary. During the meditation we were asked to visualize where we were with Jesus. An image immediately popped into my mind. I was back at the lake I grew up on, standing on the water. Jesus was holding my hand, keeping me from sinking. The decision to go to seminary as a single parent, took all the courage I could muster up. After finally reaching a degree of financial stability following my divorce, letting go of that security was a significant step of faith for me. The image of being held up by Jesus on the water was reassuring.
Dr. Henry Gustafson, my New Testament Seminary professor, used to say, “Faith is taking the leap and finding God catching us.” I was finding God doing the catching as I took that step. In the years that followed, now and then I would ask, “Jesus, where am I at with you?” Again, I would see the image of standing on the water with Jesus holding my hand. In difficult and hurting moments I would see myself being embraced. When I felt myself floundering, there was the gentle encouraging gaze of Jesus, still holding me up. One day, I was startled by a realization. The family resort I grew up on, was situated on what had been a peninsula. To the west, there was deeper water. To the east was a shallow section before heading into much deeper water further east. The image which had always come to me, had me situated on the shallow side of the lake, some distance from shore. I realized then that the greatest danger I ever faced was slipping into waist high water.
While I thought I was walking a tightrope, I had been covered by grace. In truth, my seminary journey had been blessed by grace though all of it. A major scholarship, an ideal job with flexible hours near my home and financial help from my church the summer I sorely needed it . . . all had supported me. Along with that were new friends, with more added at each junction and each new church of the journey. Just as we grow in love, we also grow in faith. Eventually, we stress a little less over new challenges. We remember the difficult moments God has taken us through.
I wish I could say that my faith never wavers. Skimming any of my journals would quickly dispel that myth. We do walk by faith and not by sight, one step at a time. Some days, it feels like we are sinking into the abyss while we clutch Jesus’s hand as tight as we can. Other days, we’re confident in our Savior’s touch, enjoying the lake breeze and gentle lap of water on our feet. Then once more we come to a juncture, wavering and wondering what we should do. Mustering our courage, we take that leap of faith and are surprised all over again, by the hand of Jesus holding us up.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrew’s 11:1