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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Deep End (03/06/14)

TITLE: The Best Life-Jacket
By Richard Hicks


I was deathly afraid of the deep water because I had a fear of being bitten by fish; so I stayed in the shallow waters where my feet could touch the bottom.

I gradually learned lessons of faith in this area when I was about 10 years old. One day my mom, step dad, brother and sister walked out on this long wooden dock. My step dad came right up behind me and threw me into the lake! I panicked in that second cause my feet were not touching the bottom.

I am sure I was thinking, “Oh, God save me from drowning!”

I was flapping around like a fish while the rest of the family ‘cheered’ me on using my nickname they shouted, “Swim Bubba swim!”

I began splashing my arms in the waters and before I knew it, I was back in the shallow end of the water again. I guess I was ‘dog paddling’ or something-I don’t really remember because I was in so much shock from suddenly being surrounded by deep waters. Boy was I ever mad at my step dad.

I sat down on the bank crying, “I am not getting back in the water!”

My mom commented, “That is how his dad taught him how to swim.” My mom and sister and I sat there and watched as He did the same thing to my little brother.

Now, I am not nearly as afraid of deep water. I can dive and even swim with fish in the water, and not be afraid. Boats rides are even enjoyable for me now, however; when in the water my inner-child still doesn't let me get too far from the bank when swimming.

As Christians, why would we want to dabble in the 'shallow end' and not desire all that God has for us? Why should we merely want to sing a few hymns, hear a sermon and go home, not even enjoying an authentic experience with Jesus Christ? To learn how to ‘swim in life’ we are going to have to be willing to get out there in the deep end with God becoming teachable like little children. Sometimes I can be pretty stubborn and have to learn things the hard way. Yet, when I allow Him to, God will prepare me and strengthen me so I can become an expert swimmer for Him.

Will we jump in all the way and trust that Jesus wants the very best for us? Or are we afraid of God, along with His plans to take us into a deeper truth? God will give us the strength as we need it, not before or after but exactly at the perfect time for He is an on-time God. But when we begin to sense His depths we will be in His presence even more for He is the Deep End!

I have learned that I need to cling tightly to my Lord out in the deep waters of life. It is easy and I have fallen prey many times in the past basing my faith on people; it can be especially tempting to look to one’s preacher, deacon or elders. That became a temptation for me. I had to learn that they have sin and mess up just as much as everyone else. There was a time period where I was often hurt by church leaders; however allowing God to hold me and nurture me through His comforting word taught me the power of forgiveness. The forgiveness my Lord offered to me—when I extended it to others became like a life-jacket out there in the deep end of my circumstances.

Father, every day we walk out into the unknown not sure of what is going to happen. We ask you to be with us and wrap Your loving arms around us. You are our protector, even in the depths. When we are tired; give us Your strength to hang on to Your hope and make us glad, In Jesus name, Amen. Psalms 46:1-4 (NKJV)

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This article has been read 283 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 03/13/14
Moving and powerful testimony of your journey in life. I've seen some of our "church family" go through similar circumstances where they were relying soley on the Pastor and Elders.

I've always found the scripture Psalm 118:8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man... " to be the surest way of thriving in life.

Well done!

God bless~
Noel Mitaxa 03/15/14
You've taken the trauma of a childhood memory and skilfully used it to create a bridge to deeper trust.
Well done.
Toni Hammer03/15/14
Great devotional. The topic was evident but not spelled out for the reader. Good job.
Danielle King 03/17/14
A great devotional that flowed well from start to finish. Spot on for the topic too. I'm so glad I didn't have your step-dad!)
Rachel Malcolm 03/17/14
I enjoyed how this story began with a personal experience and ended with an application. Fear can be so very, very hard to overcome, but I know that God often pushes me beyond my comfort zone so I will grow and learn to trust in Him more.

Watch the beginnings of your paragraphs; many of your paragraphs begin with "I." Try to vary your sentence structure. For example, your first paragraph could begin, "Deathly afraid of the deep water, I had a fear..."

I love how you connect forgiveness to a life-jacket. This made me stop and ponder how bitterness is like a lead weight that pulls me under the water, while forgiveness--received and then applied to others--is buoyant.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/18/14
This is a very good devotional. You and I chose very similar approaches to the topic this week. ;)
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/19/14
You did a great job of this. The beginning part was quite good. I could sense the tension and see the scene unfold before my eyes. You did a fantastic job of pulling me in and telling the story of the boy. You have a knack for that. In the forums, there's a thread called Jan's Writing Basics. A few weeks ago she talked about atmosphere. I think you nailed the setting with your word choice and thought this was a good example of some of the things she mentioned.

I'll give you the same advice someone gave me once. Vary those sentences structures. You have too many that start with I. Think of your words like a road in front of you. It needs to vary, have hills and valleys or it gets monotonous quickly. Sentences are the same way, Here is an example or two to show you what I mean: Being deathly afraid of the water, my toes dug into the sand. Nope, no way was I going to venture out any farther. Suddenly, I felt my dad's arms envelope me. Splash! The next thing I knew I was flailing about gasping for air. I stretched my legs, hoping to feel silt between my toes. Panic overwhelmed me when I felt nothing but water--and maybe a stray fish or two.
I hope that not only shows the different ways one can start a sentence but also builds the suspense a bit.

I liked how you used the dialog to move the story along. You may want to use contractions or even slang to make it feel more natural. For example: "I ain't gettin' back in there! Nuh-huh, no way, not ever!"

I think you did a grand job of transitioning to the main message. You brought up some great points and it made me stop and think. I also liked that you included a prayer. I could feel your passion and love for God and real desire to get his message out there. You did a wonderful job.