February 11, 2024

Testing the Waters

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

A week ago, I posted my first blog article in… well, a long time. I’ve been going through my old files and I’ve found a few articles that I had completely forgotten writing. Some of them are published in this blog, but a few are not. What follows is adapted from an article which I wrote in March of 2016.

At that time, I was paying for a website with a blogging tool included. Somewhere along the way, I realized it was not financially feasible to continue paying for a website that generated no revenue, so I moved most of what I had previously written over to Google’s Blogger platform, which I still use to this day. A few of those older articles didn’t make the cut, for various reasons.

Today, I was browsing through the old stuff and this particular article caught my eye. It struck me as being very pertinent to my reboot of the blog, and more importantly, to the last several years that I’ve experienced. The term “mid-life crisis” might not be inappropriate. Sure, in some ways my life has been pretty rock solid. I became a grandfather, I have a stable job, my wife and I are in a fairly stable (certainly not luxurious!) financial situation, and from many observable metrics, one might say that I’ve been doing pretty ok.

But is this all there is? What purpose am I serving? Why am I always anxious? Why do I feel so tired all the time? What am I even doing with my life? I want to do… something. But what?

In that article from 2016, I was just starting my original blog. I was “testing the waters,” you might say.

That phrase, “testing the waters,” reminded me of something in the Bible. The image that came to my mind was of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea, which had been parted by the Hand of God. Can you imagine being the first person to set foot upon ground which had, just moments earlier, been covered by the sea? With every step, you descend deeper and deeper into truly unexplored territory. What about the walls of water to the right and to the left? Never before had anyone walked along such a path. How would you feel if you were there, between those walls of water, unsure whether the sea would remain in this most unnatural of states?

When we say we are “testing the waters,” we usually mean we are making a preliminary and limited exploration of a new idea or situation. Often, if the results are not what we expected, anticipated, or desired, we determine that the new course is not one to be followed. In other words, we turn back from the path. Certainly, the Israelites never anticipated a miracle of such magnitude! This event was far outside of what they could possibly have expected, and yet, they moved forward.

It’s often very difficult for us to keep going when the path ahead seems uncertain, unfamiliar, or frightening. But look at what the Israelites did here! “Common sense” would have surely been telling them not to go in there! Walking along the floor of the sea would almost certainly have seemed like a dangerous and foolhardy thing to do. I have personally walked on the floor of the sea while on vacation in the Cayman Islands (2015). I had the benefit of a diving bell and a tour group guided by highly trained, experienced professionals. Even so, looking up at some 30 feet of water above my head was an unnerving experience. I knew it was something thousands of people had already done. I knew that I was outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment designed specifically to keep me safe during my little adventure. But still, there was a certain sense of danger.

There were divers there who could quickly escort me back to the surface in a matter of seconds if need be. If I’m honest, there was a moment down there, about halfway through the excursion, when I very nearly turned tail and retreated to the safety of the boat waiting for us above. Instead, I calmed myself, said a little prayer, and continued moving forward. I am so glad that I did! I know that I would have deeply regretted giving in to my fear.

My wife was down there with me, as well. I owed it to her to finish what we had started. Had I let my fear ruin that moment, I would have disappointed not only myself, but her also. Besides all that, I’m certain she would still be teasing me relentlessly to this day if I had chickened out!

Testing the waters can be scary, but with faith, we can explore new opportunities and come out stronger, whether our plans succeed or fail. Many times, the most important outcome of testing the waters is found in allowing the water to test us.

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