By Jennifer Slattery, Crosswalk.com
Stuck in the Middle of a Mess
Guest Post by Jessica Brodie
Have you ever been stuck in the middle of a mess, then out of nowhere comes exactly the help you need?
Between academic overload and heavy work commitments, our lives are incredibly busy and structured, so our family tries to plan a couple of weeks of fun every summer. This year, coronavirus restrictions hindered travel, so we teamed up with my sister’s family and rented a huge lake house in our community, complete with canoes, kayaks, and a 10-person pontoon boat, plus a giant boat tube perfect for pulling five shrieking teens and preteens for hours in the summer sun.
Our vacations are as much for us parents as for the kids—sometimes we, too, need to get a bit wild (within reason!) given our intense workload. So, when my kids begged me to hop on the tube, too, I couldn’t resist.
“Sure!” I shrugged to their delight. My sister shot me are-you-crazy-you-could-get-killed daggers and my husband, who was driving the boat, got that gleam in his eye that meant he was going to ensure I got drenched.
The water felt glorious on my skin as I stepped gently off the boat onto the giant rubber tube, settled carefully next to my stepson, grabbed the tube’s handles, and gave the go-ahead nod.
And then we were off! While my head knew we weren’t going crazy-fast, it certainly felt like we were zipping along at a million miles per hour. “This is the best!” my stepson screeched in glee as we bumped along the surface, water spraying in my eyes and mouth. All I could do was hang on tight as we circled around and around, my family cheering us on from the boat and my legs smacking against the waves of their own free will.
Then whoosh! With a tremendous zing, a wave washed me clean off the tube. There I was, coughing up water, looking like a wet rat, and bobbing like a buoy in my red-white-and-blue lifejacket smack in the center of Lake Murray, South Carolina.
Surely they saw me fall, I told my worried inner self. And, indeed, they had. In moments, the pontoon circled back to pick up first my stepson, then me.
“How was it?” my daughter asked with a wicked grin.
I shook the water out of my ears and gave her a high-five. “Fantastic! Who’s riding with me next?”
Of course, it was fantastic—because everything ended well. I’d fallen off the tube into the center of a clean, safe lake, wearing a life jacket, knowing rescue in the form of my loving husband and family was minutes away.
But there’ve been times in my life when I’ve “fallen off the tube” in the center of the lake of life, with all sorts of unknown and possibly deadly terrors lurking beneath the surface and no rescue in sight. I’ve been in emotional peril and, once or twice, physical danger, too.
Those moments have been scary and almost paralyzing. Divorce. Poverty. Spiritual wilderness. Debilitating illness. I’ve sat at loved ones’ hospital beds and deathbeds, sat vigil long into the night not knowing what rescue, if any, would come.
Sometimes the outcomes have been fine. Sometimes my prayers have been answered. Sometimes not.
Yet, stuck in the middle of the proverbial water, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, remains with me. Even when I didn’t know He was there, He was with me. Even when He didn’t resolve the situation in the way I wanted, He was there, working all things for the ultimate good. By my side. No matter what.
In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul reminded the early church that they were once dead—stranded in the center of the dark and scary lake, drowning from the weight of their sins and the evils of this often-cruel world. But through faith in Christ and the good, saving mercy of our Father God, they’d received a “life jacket” and access to the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity.
As Paul wrote, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV).
We all get stuck in the middle of the lake sometimes. Often, there’s a happy resolution. Sometimes, there’s hardship. We might feel alone, and we might worry about the outcome.
But rest assured: in Jesus, we always have rescue, whether on this side of eternity or the next.
Get to Know Jessica:
Jessica is an award-winning journalist and author with thousands of articles to her name. She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 113 journalism awards during her tenure. She is author of More Like Jesus: A Devotional Journey (2018) and editor of Stories of Racial Awakening: Narratives on Changed Hearts and Lives of South Carolina United Methodists (2018), both from her newspaper’s the Advocate Press. She also writes fiction, represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency, and her novel The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis contest from the American Christian Fiction Writers. A speaker and freelance writer, she has a faith blog at JessicaBrodie.com.
Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group. Find out more and access free resources HERE. You might also enjoy her Faith Over Fear Bible Reading plan (with each day correlating to a podcast episode on a different type of fear) on the YouVersion app and listen to her Faith Over Fear podcast (found HERE) and her Thriving With Chronic Illness Podcast (found HERE).
Make sure to sign up for Jennifer's free quarterly e-mailing, which releases soon. Each edition contains a short devotional, fictional excerpt, recipe, and more. You can sign up HERE. As an added bonus, all subscribers receive a free 36-lesson Bible study (in ebook form, link to download sent separately) on 1 Timothy. She also invites you to visit WhollyLoved.com where you'll find additional faith-building resources.
Watch out for Wholly Loved's upcoming spring conference!
Jennifer Slattery is a writer and speaker who hosts the Faith Over Fear podcast. She’s addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of Building a Family and numerous other titles and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.
As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she’s passionate about helping women experience Christ’s freedom in all areas of their lives. Visit her online to learn more about her speaking or to book her for your next women’s event and sign up for her free quarterly newsletter HERE and make sure to connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.