Going Deeper

“On those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2

We stood on the beach with anticipation and excitement. The early morning sun danced on the tiny waves as they gently patted at the shore. We smelled like sunscreen and were suited up in wet suits like members of a top secret division of the Navy Seals. What we were about to do was somewhat of a “secret mission.” In effort to obtain our Advanced SCUBA Certification, I was about to plunge down 60 feet with my two friends, Bryan and Jacob. The dive was part of the course and was intended to let the divers experience the changes in pressure, temperature, and  visibility at greater depths.

The only problem was, this training took place at Aurora Reservoir, and while the reservoir does have a roped off section designated for SCUBA training, the SCUBA area does not get down to the required 60 feet to meet the certification. So in order to go deeper, we were going to swim to the end of the roped off area, descend on the buoy-line that marked the boundary and swim under the rope to find a hidden trench that we could drop into to get our 60 foot dive recorded.

Slowly, we waded into the water with our instructor. The swim out was nice and leisurely, spent mostly cracking jokes and sharing stories about other dive trips we’d gone on. Bryan and Jacob had been with me two months ago when I dove in the Keys and it was an experience none of us could forget.

“Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8

When we finally reached the buoy, we turned on our air tanks, put on our masks, and began descending on our “top secret” dive. At first the descent was exciting, I watched my bubbles race to the surface as I pinched my nose to relieve the pressure in my ears. However, the temperature soon started to drop. Around 30 feet this wasn’t very dramatic and the gauges still read 73* Fahrenheit. But by the time we reached 40 feet the gauge read 52* (within 10 feet we lost almost 20*!) And at 45 feet, with the temperature still dropping, everything started to go dark. By the time we reached 50 feet, I could no longer even see the bubbles escaping from my mouth. Our instructor shined a flashlight directly at his own face and couldn’t even see the light it omitted. My heart began to race, my breath became rapid and shallow, my brain was convinced I was going to die. I felt, in a word: panicked.

Have you ever felt this way before? Have you ever had this fear that your world is caving in on you? It’s funny, but it seems that the deeper we go in our world—deeper into a career, deeper into a relationship, etc.—the stakes become higher. And while the excitement may feel more exhilarating, we often find ourselves plunged into the darkness filled with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Unfortunately, most of the dark situations we get into are by our own free will. We think we are advanced enough and we plunge into situations we can’t handle.

“In the face of the darkness, light is near.” ~Job 17:12

As we neared the bottom of the reservoir, our instructor tugged on my wetsuit so I would follow him towards the trench. I honestly didn’t want to. I wanted to signal “cut!” and shoot back to the surface. I was scared. But as I slowly kicked my feet and started to swim, I felt another new sensation. Out of the darkness, a hand grabbed onto mine. It was Bryan’s hand and from its touch, I could tell he was filled with the same fear that I felt inside. While we couldn’t make out each other’s eyes, I gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. He did the same, and together, we began to swim forward, following the sound of our instructor’s fins churning the water.

It’s funny how darkness plays with our senses. When we are afraid, when we are stressed, when we are worried, our judgment often fades with the light. We begin to doubt, and we begin to panic. We often want to shoot to the surface and take the easy way out. But that’s not what God wants for us. He doesn’t want to trap us in our own darkness, but He knows that the dark experiences we go through helps us to see the light. We are blessed when we are lost in the darkness and crying out to Him for help.

“You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29

After swimming along for 10 minutes, our instructor stopped suddenly. He turned around and tapped all of us, signaling it was time to surface. Elevating our bodies and releasing the pressure in our suits, we slowly kicked upward. Our ascent took over 3 minutes, but Bryan and I held onto each other the entire way up. As we broke the surface, taking in the rush of heat and light, we both immediately spit out our regulators and inflated our vests so we could float. We looked around for a few seconds and then we looked at each other. And then we started to laugh, both overcome with adrenaline and amazement.

While God won’t allow us to shoot to the surface He won’t leave us either. Like a good instructor, He’ll gently tug on us and show us the way. While we can’t always see Him, we can listen for and follow Him where He leads us. And God does one better than that; He surrounds us with friends and family to hold onto as we plod along through the darkness.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~John 1:5

The darkness in our world can’t and shouldn’t be avoided. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.”  So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.Going deeper is what makes life worth living. If you never experience darkness, you’ll never appreciate light. But when you do find yourself surrounded by darkness, know that God is guiding you through it. While you may not be able to see Him, He is there. While the pressure and conditions may be overwhelming and stressful, He will keep showing you the way through it. While you may feel panicked and alone, He has given you family and friends to hold on to.

“So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.  Discover.” ~Mark Twain

Zach Herzog

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