“Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waves– a pathway no one knew was there!” Psalm 77:19
I love the water. There’s nothing quite like living in a town named for the gorgeous lake it sits on. Nothing beats the calmness and stillness first thing in the morning as the sun is rising over the mountains, or getting out on a boat and enjoying the water up close.
I love water, but only when I feel safe.
When I came across Psalm 77:19 a few years ago, my eyes immediately went to the phrases “through the sea” and “mighty waves”. That was where I was. My head was barely staying above the water as my life changed in a way I didn’t expect it to. A long relationship ended unexpectedly, my church was in the midst of crisis, I was beginning a new job and it felt like my world was crashing down. I was walking down a pathway I certainly didn’t know was there and a pathway I wouldn’t have chosen had I had the choice. Going through the depths of the sea with its mighty waves crashing all around was not in my plan. I was left questioning my identity, God’s goodness, His plans, and His heart.
You see, I said I trusted God- until I thought I knew better. Until His plans for me suddenly weren’t the plans I wanted or hoped they would be. I thought the best plan for my life was to get married– we’d been dating for a few years after all, and it looked as though things were moving in that direction. I thought the best plan was to have a more permanent job, not taking a job that I would only have for a few months. I thought the best plan was to be involved in a thriving local church that “had it all together”. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how all of this hurt and confusion was actually God’s BEST plan for me and how losing everything I held dear was for my good.
In that moment I was faced with a question only I would be able to answer: would I choose to walk forward in faith, unsure of where the pathway was leading, and trust in the God I claimed to love and believe in? I chose to answer that question with a yes, even though I didn’t know what it would look like or mean.
My pastor illustrated a sermon this weekend with a puzzle. We’re handed different pieces of the puzzle in life and we want to figure out where they go and how they fit in the grand scheme of God’s plan. But the thing is, we don’t have the top of the box. We don’t know what the masterpiece is that God is creating. I was holding these pieces that didn’t make sense to me, but they fit perfectly in God’s plan because He sees the whole picture.
At the beginning of this hard season in my life, all I wanted was for the pain to go away and to have answers. I just wanted to understand why all these things were taking place. I figured that once I knew why, then I could trust God easier. I wanted to see the top of the box. My eyes were focused on the circumstances swirling around me.
Remember the story from Matthew 14? The disciples are all in a boat traveling across the sea and a huge storm rises up. They see Jesus walking on water towards them and as he approaches, Peter asks Jesus to command him to come walk on the water with him. He gets out of the boat and actually begins to walk on top of the water. “But when He saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” (Matthew 14:30). As soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to focus on the circumstances surrounding him, he began to sink.
The more I focused on my circumstances, the more my thoughts about them began to affect what I believed about God. As I questioned why these things had to happen, as I fed into the lies that I wasn’t good enough or God didn’t love me because He allowed these things, my view of who God is shifted. Focusing on circumstances will shift what we believe about who God is.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure when the switch happened for me– from trying to figure out all the details to letting go and trusting God. For me personally, it wasn’t an “aha!” moment where it suddenly clicked, but rather a gradual mind and heart shift. As I dug into His word and prayed really honest prayers, not holding back in pouring my heart out to God, my mind began to be filled with truth about who God is. I began to believe that God does love me, that His plans for me are good, that he never leaves me, he is delighted with me, and that he alone is truth and life.
My circumstances didn’t change. In fact, they got harder and more confusing. Throughout the course of the last two and a half years, I quit two jobs without having the next lined up, moved to a new state, walked through a church crisis, applied for an internship that I didn’t get, worked multiple part-time jobs just to make ends meet, worked through the grief of a broken heart, had very little community, and more. But, I was focused on truth. I was confident in who God is and in focusing on Him, though the waves still surrounded me and I continued to walk through the depths of the sea, I was at peace.
I began to just take the next step in front of me. I couldn’t see where the path was going, but I trusted the one walking it with me. It was HIS path, after all, and He knew the way. There were a lot of twists and turns I didn’t expect and a lot of tears and prayers. At times I had to stand on others’ faith because mine was shaken. At times it meant, as my brother likes to say, doing it scared– taking the next step in front of me even though it was terrifying and uncertain.
When I read Psalm 77:19 now, my eyes are immediately drawn to the phrases “Your path” and “Your Way”. Where before this verse overwhelmed me because I saw the chaos of the mighty waves and the depths of the sea, now it gives me comfort because I know it’s HIS path. My eyes are no longer focused on the circumstances swirling around me but on the person that is walking before, behind and beside me, through the depths and waves. The one who simply speaks and the wind and the waves obey. So I will continue to trust because I know the Master. He has the top of the box to the puzzle of my life and sees the masterpiece that I cannot. While His path is often different then the one I would have chosen to take, it has always led to the most beautiful and life giving things.
Trust Him. Whether through the depths of the sea, the wind and waves, or when the waters are still and clear. The path you didn’t know was there is worth it.