When You Feel Like You’re Drowning

amandabhslater via Flickr cc

My friend Ashley Hafer is spending the next year in Mozambique and Uganda loving on children and learning to rely on God in a very real way. Ashley was a teacher here in Greenville. She owns a house. She has lots of friends and a loving family. And God called her out upon the water, when she least expected it. — Tiffany

By Ashley Hafer

Water is a powerful thing. It can give life or cause death. A life without it, however, means certain death.

Mozambique was struggling because of a lack of water. During my first eight weeks here, we’d only had two light sprinklings of rain. By the seven week mark, things were getting difficult. The water wasn’t running at all in our houses anymore, our well had dried up, they were having to limit the amount of drinking water they sold us because it was becoming difficult for them to find more for us, and every time they trucked in water to distribute, it would cost $4,000 (which our school did not have a budget for) and it would only last us for a few days. We were in a tough spot.Much worse off than us, however, were the villagers who use the well water for all their cooking, cleaning, and drinking. We knew we needed rain. We were desperate for it. Monday, November 18, we really pressed in as a school, praying for rain in fifty different languages. Apparently, word of our need traveled quickly, because my sister heard through her workplace that at a prayer rally at the UN theywere even praying for rain in Mozambique.

Our prayers were answered. That Friday night, we got rain. Then, that Sunday night, we got a flood. I titled this blog “The Overflow” due to what took place that night. The rain came down in such droves that the earth couldn’t nearly take it all in. The rain began while we were watching a movie in the church on Sunday night. It came down in a thick sheet, pummeling the roof. A roar went up among the students, followed by half of them running outdoors to dance and play in it. The movie had to be turned off because it was raining with such intensity that we couldn’t hear the movie any longer. As I ran home in the rain, many spots along the way were already ankle-deep with water. Soon after getting inside and getting dried off, we got the report- “There’s flooding! The family area is flooding!” Just below my house is the family area. There are eight families attending classes with me who live there with their seventeen children in one room “houses”. At this point, the water was sneaking its way into their homes. Since our house is just above the family area with a big concrete wall connected to our back porch, we decided we should check out our water situation. Sure enough, we too were close to flooding if we didn’t act quickly. The water was shin deep, and only about two inches from flooding onto our porch and pouring into our house. Since the families had other people helping them, we piled all of our belongings onto our beds, in case the water did come in, then went out into the monsoon-like weather with buckets and a pot and began bailing the water out and throwing it over the wall/fence behind our house. The scooping and dumping was back-breaking work. After getting the water level down a good bit, we’d gotten other reports about flooding, so a few of us went up to another area of the campus and bailed more. Probably 80% or more of the 300 students were now dispersed between five flooding locations to bail water at this point. It was just crazy!When faced with the flood, we began to doubt the blessing being given to us. There was an internal struggle that took place. Do we rejoice over this? Or do we beg for it to stop?We asked for it! Sometimes we get what we ask for and it overtakes us and overwhelms us. We can begin to question and doubt saying, “Wait! Stop! This is too much!” Is this not what we prayed for?

This morning I read Matthew 14, where Jesus was walking on the water and Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus. God is calling me to also step out in faith. He’s encouraging me to keep my chin up- not to look down and get caught off guard by fear.I like being in control. When I think about not being in control of a situation, I can become worrisome and fearful. However, I’m striving to be fully surrendered to God. When surrendered to him, I’m no longer in control. In the surrender I have two choices- I can become fearful or I can surrender and allow him to crash in on me, allowing him to do with me as He pleases. It’s just like with water. When we’re ankle deep in water, we still have quite a bit of control. Once we’re knee deep, it’s harder to move and we have less control. Once we’re in over our head, fully engulfed, there is a loss of control. Full submission to God means being in over my head, fully saturated by him. So the question is, what’s deeper- the level of my love? Or the level of my fear?

So I encourage you (and myself!) to let go of your fears and trust that God knows what’s best for you. He’s not going to let you drown! Strive to see things as He sees them.

See the rain as provision of water, not a potential to flood.

See the wave as the opportunity to surf, not to be overtaken.

See the high dive as a springboard to leap, not to sink.

See the waterfall as a means for refreshment, not a chance to drown.

See the hose for its ability to put out a fire, not to blast you.

Our fears can exhaust us. We can get so caught up in them, allowing them to deplete us of our energy, till we’re sinking in them. It reminds me of the sensation of getting pummeled by a wave. When you’re fully submerged by a large wave overtaking you and you’re tossed around under the water, you get to a point where you don’t know which way is up and which is down. The water swirls around and you tumble about, getting water in your nose and burning your eyes. You feel like your lungs will explode. That’s a moment of desperation. Now they tell you, don’t fight it. If the water’s overwhelming you, let it toss you around, and once it’s released you, you’ll pop up. If you fight, you’ll exhaust yourself. The same applies when caught up in fear. Release it and you’ll rise to the top. He’s got you!

Photo Credit: amandabhslater via Flickr cc

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