By Elizabeth Prata
In 2002-2005 I went through a severe trial. It was in the middle of that time that I became saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, who extended His hand and lifted me from my sins and the muck I had lived in, thinking it was a palace. No, His hand grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shook the mud off and He gave me His righteousness. As I grew in Christ, I was humbled, no, awed, but the fact that He absorbed the Father’s wrath for these very sins I’d been living in for 42 years.
Salvation came in the middle of the trial, so I had opportunity to view it from two vantage points. One was when looking back, from own worldly perspective having tried to overcome the pit in my own strength. The other was His heavenly perspective, HIS strength given to me to overcome those trials. After the cross punctuated my life and split my history, the trial was still hard but I had another viewpoint to deal with it: HOPE.
Beforehand, my mental/internal picture was of me in a deep pit. I was a struggling worm, trying vainly to climb out. Afterward, I saw myself climbing the steep, muddy bank of a shallow but raging brook, slipping and sliding, clawing and hanging on, but making upward progress.
After salvation, the embankment was still steep, and the mud was still very real, but my steps became surer. Like the hinds’ feet,
The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like deer’s feet, And has me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments. (Habakkuk 3:19).
As McLaren’s Expositions says of Habakkuk’s hinds’ feet,
"Plod, plod, plod, in a heavy-footed, spiritless grind, like that with which the ploughman toils down the sticky furrows of a field, with a pound of clay at each heel; or like that with which a man goes wearied home from his work at night. The monotony of trivial, constantly recurring doings, the fluctuations in the thermometer of our own spirits; the stiff bits of road that we have all to encounter sooner or later; and as days go on, our diminishing buoyancy of nature, and the love of walking a little slower than we used to do; we all know these things, and our gait is affected by them. But then my text brings a bright assurance, that swift and easy and springing as the course of a stag on a free hill-side may be the gait with which we run the race set before us."
People have verses, quotes, and hymns or praise songs that they often turn to in times of need, in order to grab hold of something outside themselves to help them persevere. For me during that awful time, it was a song by Randy Travis,
Shallow Water, Randy Travis
I will not drown in shallow water.
Not with your love within my reach.
I did not come this far to falter.
And will not rest until I’m free.
Through Your love my eyes are open
Through Your love I’ll learn to see
And in Your name my bread is broken
By Your grace I’ll rest in peace
I had reached the breaking of day within the long dark night of the soul. The Light is beaming, the Lighthouse awaits. No, I will not drown in the mud and muck, what I learned was actually sin. I will not drown in raging waters of turbulence and strife. The water was shallow all along! I can climb the embankment because HE sets my feet on a sure path. I can persevere, now that I’m acting in His strength, not my own, which had only brought me lower, if I’m honest. I’m NOT a struggling, buried, insignificant worm dwelling in mud that blinds, I am a daughter of Christ, loved, and washed by His blood. I won’t faint. I will live!
I heard that song again recently after some years of it having sunk below the piles of newer songs. It all came tumbling back to my memory, as these things often do when they’re triggered by a smell…a sound…a song.
Shallow Water was published in 2000 as part of an album called Inspirational Journey. The album peaked in 2001, but the individual songs kept on, and were popular during the time I was undergoing the trial.
Friends, the water is shallow. The lions are chained.
“Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him, saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.” John Bunyan Pilgrim’s Progress
Stay on the path and He shall make your feet sure, like hinds’ feet climbing to high places. O, what a day when we mount up on eagles wings!
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, KJV)
No, I will not faint. The Lord is with me. Nor shall I drown in shallow water.
What are your go-to verses or songs or hymns from which you receive solace?