“You rule the swelling of the sea; when its waves rise, You still them.” – Psalm 89:9
I’ve often wondered what I would do in a real emergency. While I wanted to believe that I would prioritize my daughter’s safety above my own, I was not entirely sure and I worried that, in a moment of crisis, I would become irrational and focused only on my own survival. After all, while I love being a mom and want to be a good one, each day I engage in countless selfish acts. I worried that, since I respond selfishly when I want “just one more minute of peace,” I would respond much more selfishly when my life was in danger. Sure, I had heard about a mother’s instinct to protect her children, but that instinctive selflessness to protect offspring from danger seems to be one of the ways that we were made in God’s image and I worried that this part of who God created me to be had been marred by sin. Last Sunday, however, I was grateful to find that part of God’s image at the core of my being.
Our family had gone on a boat trip to a large lake that we only visit once every few years. While we know the lake to some extent, we are not completely comfortable on it. The day was sunny with a nice breeze and we decided to spend some extra time in the less familiar lake before returning to more familiar waters. After a middle-of-the-lake picnic, we began heading towards a more sheltered area for a swim and, as we steered towards shore, the wind and waves picked up. We were warned by three splashes of spray that hit our faces in rapid succession and then the bow of the boat suddenly plunged under water and I found myself standing on the downward moving deck of the boat in waist deep water. As I looked around me, I saw that my preschool aged daughter’s life vest had pulled her feet from the floor of the boat and she was floating towards the open water.
It was at that moment, that I knew God had kept part of His image intact within me: in the midst of the chaos around me, the only thing I cared about was my daughter’s safety. Yes, I wanted to stay alive, but, honestly, the only reason that I cared about my survival was that I knew my daughter would need me to help her survive.
I grabbed my daughter’s life preserver, pulled her with me to where the water was shallow enough for her to stand, and helped her run up the sloping deck to the back of the boat where the rest of our family was gathered. By the grace of God, the bow of the boat then surfaced and the water flowed to the back where it was able to easily flow off into the churning water beneath us. After a terrifying few hours, we made it safely home with a renewed thankfulness for God’s provision and gratitude for each other.
I share this story, not because I want to boast about my “Momma Bear” instinct. After all, I did not lift a car off of my child with my bare hands like some mothers reportedly do. In fact, if I am honest, I was the least courageous of the adults on the boat (which my tears during our torturous journey to shore soon revealed). Instead, I share this story because it was a moment that showed me something profound about God and about the depth of His love for us.
You see, because of sin, God’s children have also been on a sinking ship. The eternal life that they were created to share with their Father in paradise was lost and they faced destruction. Yet, God loved His children so much that, when they were drowning in sin, He sacrificed Himself to make sure that they survived. In the past, I had always assumed that this was a rational decision that God made but, having felt the all encompassing desire to save my own child, I now I suspect it wasn’t a decision at all, but a natural result of who He is at His core and how deeply He loves us.
So no matter what is happening in your life today, please know that you have a Father with a fierce “Papa Bear” instinct whose whole being was so focused on saving you that He willingly sacrificed Himself to do so. Having done that, He’ll be right by your side as He steers you safely to shore.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” – Isaiah 49:15