Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Unknown Depths

The Unknown Depths
for Gabrielle
by Peter T. Atkinson

There are places where the water touches land,
Where the land, peaceful and solid, does stand,
And out in the water, the ripples on the surface flow,
But lurking just beneath do unseen currents go,
And since we are to those unknown a stranger,
We cannot help but feel a sense of danger,
And some would flee and choose to never go in,
To never venture even just one little toe in.
Others of course prefer to run and dive,
For it is in danger they feel the most alive.
They in their running don’t even see the divide,
Never take a minute to see the edging tide,
And so never know the feeling of hesitation,
The paralysis attached to idle contemplation.

But me, I've simply stood there on that ledge
Preferring the known side of the edge,
I do not dive, nor do I flee.
Somehow, here, it seems, I'm called to be,
To sit and ponder the here and there,
On the sidelines, offering inactive prayer,
Content to simply sympathize and give
My watch o'er others as they live:
Shedding a tear for him, a cringe for her,
As the waves arise out of the currents' stir.
But sometimes, while standing there on the side,
A wave can rise beyond the tide,
And what was safe, secure, dry land
Has been overtaken by another's hand.

This very thing happened once to me,
And before I got a chance to disagree
The hand had pulled me out to sea,
And fear looms large in the water's deep,
Like a nightmare produces restless sleep,
And what was left for my soul to keep,
After unwillingly taking faith's final leap?
For what else did I have to grasp
Than the stranger's hand around me clasp'd?
And just whose hand took me from my place,
My safe, controlled, and comfortable space,
And now has me floating through the danger,
That unknown, invisible, frightening stranger?

It couldn't be God. He's supposed to be good,
And good is being safe, where I securely stood,
Not risking my sanity, nor life, nor limb
In a real life version of sink or swim.
What kind of God would bring me here
Where I am floundering in doubt and fear,
Wondering if anything I'd been told  was true
About Jesus Christ, or Love, or You?

And with each new crash and pounding wave,
The shadowy threat from the beaconing grave,
I question everything I thought I knew,
And so have no clue of what to do,
My arms flail and my legs reach down
To find some solid piece of ground,
But nothing firm do I feel or find,
No respite for my desperate, seeking mind,
No place anywhere to rest my soul,
No firm foundation within my control.

It's then my despair did deep descend
But just as I thought I'd reached my end,
I came to know a different truth,
Beyond the fairy tales of my youth,
A truth that isn't comfortable and nice
But is always willing to pay the price,
Not standing on the sidelines from afar
Bright, but as distant as the farthest star,
But gave it all up to live with us here,
To share our pain, to experience our fear,
And still was willing to pay the cost,
Nailed high to die upon the cross.

I remembered then that he calmed the sea
Could he still do the same for me?
Could it have been his hand after all
That he didn't really ever let me fall,
That I was safe there in his hand,
Despite being taken from the sand,
That though I didn't have control,
He stilled cared deeply about my soul,
And never ever did forsake me
Though from my comfort he did take me?

Eventually calm was restored. I was back on land.
On my own two feet it seemed I could stand,
But I learned of strength I never had known.
Through the trial, I somehow had changed and grown.
I no longer was paralyzed by worry and doubt,
For he pulled me into the sea and delivered me out.
There was nothing to fear and hold on tight to,
For He's Lord of the darkness and Lord of the light, too,
He's Lord of the land and He's Lord of the waves,
For He's the Lord who creates, sustains, and saves,
There just is no place apart from His grace
No trouble that causes Him to hide His face,
No problem, no mess, no danger too large
To make me doubt that He is always in charge.
No, I no longer need to feel secure
In the safe, controlled, comfort of the shore,
For I've now survived the depth of the sea,
Because He never ever abandoned me.

Photo Credit: Pj Schlobohm