“You know how you lie when you’re dating?”
That’s the way Peter began his story. Early in their relationship, Marsha asked Peter, “What do you like to do?” Peter said, “I like to swim!” And Marsha said, “Um….me too!”
So they got married, and went on their honeymoon to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They went swimming. The waves were high and there was an undertow—a serious undertow, actually, and it pulled them both off their feet and dragged them into the roiling surf.
Turns out, Peter said, Marsha didn’t know how to swim. And while he did, he wasn’t exactly an Olympian. So there they were, struggling against the current, trying to get back to the shore. They waved their arms and screamed at their friends on the beach. “They waved back!” Peter said. “Thought we were just having a great time out in the waves.”
Marsha is holding onto Peter, who’s dogpaddling for his life. She’s flailing and running out of strength. Finally Marsha says, “You go on—you can make it. But not with me hanging on. I’ll be ok. I’ve made my peace.” Peter said, “No, if we die, it’s together.” He heaved ahead, tried to pull both of them one foot closer to shore. And the current yanked them further and further from the land.
Finally in exhaustion, Peter said, it was as if a voice said, “Let go. Relax. Don’t fight it anymore.” And they rolled floating on their backs, rode the waves, thinking they were being drawn out to sea and drowned forever. Then, in time, they felt sand beneath their heels.
Everybody knows not to fight the undertow. You’re supposed to do what Peter and Marsha finally did—not because they were so wise and had such presence of mind, but because they were just exhausted and couldn’t fight anymore.
I think that is how we all “let go.” We’re not great letter-goers! We have way too much ego, too much fear, too much panic about our success, our appearance, our standing. So God works with us, wonderfully. It would be nice, God tells us, if we could just ease up on all of that stuff and just rest in God’s care. And when that doesn’t much move us, God waits. And waits. Lets us flail and thrash and fight like banshees for our own little version of life where we are the stars and starlets who need no one, neither man nor God. And then when we have exhausted ourselves and finally given up, God flips us on our backs and says, “See how easy it is to float? Remember that from when you were a kid? Trust the water you’re so afraid of—trust it to hold you up and carry you home.”