Scuba Lessons from the Lord
By Diane Markins
After a 20 year break, I went scuba diving again. All those years ago I wasn't a very capable or confident diver. I was also younger and stronger. But while we lose much through aging (muscle mass, hearing, vision, brain cells…) we can gain some things too. Wisdom. Patience. Peace. I drew heavily on those while under the deep blue sea.
SCUBA stands for self contained underwater breathing apparatus. When using this gear you are able to enter a world which would otherwise be impossible to access. Snorkeling is fun but you simply don't have the same experience as remaining far below the surface for a sustained period of time. However, when you snorkel, you don't risk having your lungs or brain explode.
After fighting back the nausea I always get when on a small boat in the ocean, getting that heavy tank on my back and flipping backwards over the side, I felt better physically. But immediately remembered why I quit this activity in the first place…it scares me!
Determined to not only make the dives we planned but to enjoy them, I began to pray and recount my training.
There is much to learn and apply to life from scuba diving.
• The first rule is to keep breathing. NO MATTER WHAT. If your tank runs out of air and you have to go to the surface, you simply breathe OUT slowly, without stopping. Lungs expand on the way up so there is a big supply. If you don't let it out, well, refer to my second paragraph.
Job 27:3 says, "As long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils."
So often when we are worried, fearful, exhausted, angry or sad we don't breathe well. Our breath is shallow and infrequent. This limits circulation of oxygen and we don't function well. There is such relief when we take a deep breath and release some of those emotions on the exhale.
• Another important rule is "don't panic." If you panic you may forget rule one and all the other rules…this can cause you to die in your wetsuit.
Psalm 56:3 says, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
We all face unexpected difficulties: cheating spouses, cancer diagnoses, pregnant teens or job lo ... they happen to people every day. People who panic, reacting by reflex, often cause more harm than good. When you get smacked with an unexpected challenge, first take some deep breaths; then pray. You may only be able to utter the name of God, but He hears you and will respond.
• Check your equipment. If your tank is low on air, your weights are incorrect or your regulator is leaking you will not have a safe dive.
Have you checked your equipment lately? Do you read your Bible or is it dust-covered? Have you "put on your armor" lately or is it rusty? Do you need GPS to find your way to church? These things will equip you when a crisis comes, or sustain you to enjoy the good times.
• Always dive with a buddy. Make sure you can see your buddy at all times. Review communication signals and what to do together in case of emergency. My husband dove with an assigned buddy once who left him caught and tangled in fishing line. He had to cut his way free.
It is hazardous and much less efficient to try going through life and difficult circumstances alone. Invest in friendships, learn to talk transparently and stand by your friends when they need you.
• Relax and enjoy the experience. As I was propelling along at 75 feet below the surface I had to continually fight the urge to launch to toward the sky. Irrational fears kept creeping in until I made a decision to trust and be fully present in my circumstance. I trusted my equipment, my training, my buddy and mostly my Lord.
It was spectacular. When I stopped "swimming" and began to calmly glide along, my body relaxed. When I quit focusing on the surface and looked around, I saw funny looking fish in my face, gorgeous coral and rock formations and colors that rival any artwork on earth. My husband and I made hand-signal jokes. It was effortless, fun and entirely peaceful.
But I almost missed it. If not for the decision to accept the gift of peace God offers us, we will miss the humor, the beauty and the lessons found in challenging times.
Keep breathing and don't be afraid to go deep. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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Diane Markins writes and speaks in a "high def, life-transforming style" about issues that impact daily living. She is the host of Bold Living radio show, but is also a speaker and writer. She enjoys travel and has been from Mexico to Zimbabwe but always loves coming home to roost in Arizona near her family. See more of her writing at her website, www.DianeMarkins.com.
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