Trust the Water to Hold You

I love floating on my back. I love the weightlessness I feel when I’m on the water. I love the way my sense of hearing becomes momentarily muted. I love the way I’m free to focus on breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out.

I close my eyes and don sunglasses to block out even more of the light. I can easily slide into sensory overload in this city, and floating on my back cues my system to stop thinking so stinkin’ hard and so ridiculously much and just exist.

It’s my opportunity to tune out the auditory and visual clutter. Even the mental clutter starts to dissipate as I focus solely on my breath. My muscles relax, and sometimes even my headaches and neckaches begin to lessen. Being on the water like this is about as close to bliss as I get.

Naturally, I want to share my love of supine flotation with my children. Once I tried teaching a child to float, with particular difficulty. This child kept tensing up and sinking. At first I tried supporting the float, but every time I removed my hands, sinking commenced. My child felt too frightened to try again.

That’s when I explained: You have to trust the water to hold you. “Relax, don’t tense up, and that water is strong enough to hold you. Don’t worry, because if you start to sink, Mommy is right here. Mommy won’t let you sink. Mommy won’t let you fall.”

Isn’t that so often the way life with God is? We have trouble trusting God to hold us up. We have trouble trusting Him to catch us. We’re not sure He’s going to keep us from sinking.

But this God of ours, we can trust Him. He is strong enough to hold us. He’s right here with us, and He’s trustworthy and trustable. We don’t have to be “prepared to sink,” as that struggling swimmer of mine claimed. But first, we have to breathe. We have to relax. We have to trust.

A few weeks later, we were all swimming somewhere else. My fledgling little swimmer was becoming more confident in the water. But the jump came too soon, and water was swallowed, and the poor dear came out of the water spluttering.

Papa instructed: Respect the water. In other words, obey the rules of reality. Obey the laws of physics. That water will hold you, but you have to respect its properties.

Afterwards I reflected on our summertime experiences. I thought about these two watery truths, that we must simultaneously respect and trust the water. And I realized: the way we treat the water is the same way we walk with our Savior.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

How have you experienced the water as good and/or dangerous?

How has your relationship with Christ reflected both “trust” and “obey”?


  1. Deb Smith July 24, 2017

    I also love to float effortlessly and mindlessly on the surface of the ocean. It is there that I commune with my Lord and allow him to carry me, as everything else just drifts away. I feel safe and secure in the palm of his hand.

  2. Helena July 24, 2017

    I love this, Elizabeth. Such a perfect picture. Thank you!

  3. Hadassah Doss July 24, 2017

    My all-time favorite hymn, and now I have a visual for it! Thank you!

    1. Elizabeth July 24, 2017

      The song was my favorite as a child. 🙂 I’m so glad the story could give you a picture for it.

  4. Grace L July 24, 2017

    I too love to float on my back in the water. It makes me want to find a safe and peaceful place to swim and float. And I also love the connection with the song, Trust and Obey. Thank you for sharing these wonderful images with us, Elizabeth.

    1. Elizabeth July 24, 2017

      Thanks Grace! It makes me really happy to have found other float-on-the-water devotees. Makes me think maybe there really is something about the water that can teach us things about life and about God. . .

  5. MaDonna July 30, 2017

    Thanks Elizabeth! I loved the visual of it all as well. The “respect” reminded me of how we’ve taught our kids that if they are going to surf, they need to look for riptides before they get in. And, if they are going to jump off any boulders/cliffs, they need to ALWAYS check the depth of the water EVERY time. God never changes, but circumstances do.
    And a couple days before the typhoon hit us I was reminded about how powerful the ocean can be as I sat on the beach watching the waves crashing in with what seemed like no rhythm.

    1. Elizabeth July 30, 2017

      Water is definitely powerful — much more so in the ocean than in a pool!

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