Originally posted October 31, 2019.
When I originally watched the video on YouTube, I marveled.
The man actually went into the water to demonstrate what he was teaching. I was shocked that someone would willingly fall through ice, into freezing cold water, to teach viewers what to do if this ever happened to them. Laughing him off as crazy, I went about my day. I’m not even sure how much time passed before that crazy little video came to mind again, but I’m glad it did.
Photo by Deana LePage
It has been nearly a year since my dear friend, Amber Jefferson, passed away suddenly. For those that did not know her in this life, she was a joy and force to behold. I miss her deeply. I miss her hugs and her smile. I miss her voice. She was the soprano to my alto for over 8 years, and I will always miss singing with her. My path of grief has been slow. My path of grief has been marked with many moments of sorrow, loneliness, and doubt.
The passing of time doesn’t stop because we struggle. Life proceeds like normal, seemingly unaffected by our feelings. The dishes and laundry still call us to task, and meals still need to be planned and created. Paperwork piles still grow. Appointments and activities still need to be scheduled and driven to.
My people still needed me.
Part of me was thankful for the ordinary days that kept me humming along through it all. Yet, there remained a sorrow I just couldn’t shake. The feeling had been with me for months, just under the surface and festering like a thorn in my foot. But I couldn’t even name it or place it. It took something sudden, scary, and potentially tragic to force it out for what it was.
I didn’t trust God. I didn’t trust Him to keep me safe and to go before me all the days of my life. I didn’t trust Him to keep my family safe.
I didn’t trust Him.
Thankfully, ministry work still welcomed me in and filled my days with joy in the midst of sorrow. Bible study, leading worship, and planning ministry events have been such a gift to me in the midst of grief.
This past April, and the day after an Arts for the Kingdom evening, my family took a trip out to a remote cabin. Time in the outdoors is what I thought my heart needed as I came down off of a busy schedule. I felt worn, in need of recharging. I needed to be filled up mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The fresh air and the beauty of God’s creation felt like a salve to my soul. It was good, but in reality, I needed something deeper.
We drove across the swamps at the feet of Denali. It was a beautiful day. The area was starting to thaw in the warming sunshine of spring. Our rigs navigated across the ice and snow, but on the return trip, we found a soft spot. We “abandoned ship” in order to make getting the rig out easier. The kids went before me, making their way toward my husband’s parents in the other vehicle. I followed.
Suddenly, my feet broke through the thin ice that was covering a small lake in the tundra. I never felt the bottom, but my arms caught the edges of the ice before I went completely under. Instantly, that funny little video came to mind. In the midst of the chaos, I knew to calm myself and breathe. I knew to kick my feet out behind me to propel myself forward onto the ice. I knew to stay low and flat until the ice felt solid and strong. I knew I would be ok.
Although I didn’t acknowledge it right away, I also knew that God had been with me. God had been with my kids as they navigated across the same ice and didn’t fall through. He brought that video to mind the instant I needed to know what to do. His mercy surrounded that whole situation.
He brought me safely out. We were ok. I was ok. It was going to be ok.
In an effort to trust God more fully, I searched His word for anchors of truth. I soon found Isaiah 43. The first five verses resonated with me so much that I knew I needed to memorize them. They needed to be written on my heart so that I could bring them to mind (as quickly as a YouTube video).
“When we pass through the waters, He will be with us” is a paraphrase that still hits home, but the promises that follow give me the deepest hope. God tells us not to fear because He has redeemed us. “Fear not for I am by your side”. “Fear not for I am with you”. These are anchors for my soul. No matter what happens, I am redeemed.
Something my husband and I have noticed since I went through the ice that day is the affect it has had on our children. They are still fearful when thinking of that day. They haven’t been very excited to go on adventures since it happened. It makes me sad, but it makes sense. Watching your mom fall through ice isn’t something you’d soon forget or would want to face again. I acknowledge that they are likely on their own paths of grief following that day, and I pray that the truths in this song can serve as a reminder to them that they can trust God. Above all though, I pray for the confidence to live a life of witness to the trust I have in God. They are watching and listening. May my life reflect the trust I have in God.
That day on the tundra ended well, but that isn’t where my trust lies. We aren’t promised that all will be well just because we trust it will be. When we trust God, we trust that He will be with us in the midst of everything. The good, that bad, and the ugly. Pain, loss and grief are mingled with flourishing, joy and beauty in this life. That is a reality for everyone.
I am thankful to navigate this life with the hope of Christ, “our savior”. None of us are promised tomorrow. None of us are promised a road without sorrow. Why not live with an anchor of hope in the midst of it all? Why not live it redeemed?
If you haven’t yet gripped the hope of Christ, please reach out. Ask me about it. I’m still growing and learning, but I would love to grow and learn with you.
May this song bless your heart as it has my own. May it be an anchor for your soul.
P.S. That little video was a portion of a longer and more detailed video, which I recommend watching too. Be safe friends!