During my junior year of college, I studied abroad and landed in South Africa, where I had the amazing opportunity to go shark cage diving. The morning of, a group of us took a boat onto the Atlantic waters, donned our wetsuits (which were a pain to put on), and climbed into a cage strapped to the side of a rocking ship. Our instructor gave us very clear directions and told us he would use the high ground to point out the great whites. When he yelled, “Down!” we were to duck underwater and turn in the direction he told us. Simple enough. (Though I had a mini heart attack every time he screamed; he had enough urgency in that yell, you’d think the shark was in the cage).
After a few times of bobbing up and down and not seeing anything, we duck under and I catch a glimpse of something big out of the corner of my eye. It was clear something was there – that was the whole reason I waiting in freezing waters, after all - but I couldn’t look at it. I somehow convinced myself there was nothing there, that there was no need to turn around. Resurfacing, everyone exclaimed, “Did you see that?” “That was huge!” while I analyzed why on earth I reacted that way.
Obviously, seeing a predator up close scared me more than I thought and I was compensating with some irrational logic, as if ignoring the shark would make it go away. But I did want to see them, and I’d be darned if I didn’t get my money’s worth! When the instructor gave his “Run - the kraken is upon us” yell, and I sank under and forced myself to look - and saw a massive shark swim right into my line of view.
There’s no way I can explain what it felt like to have this beast right in front of me. Suffice it to say, seeing a shark on TV is not the same as seeing one 6 feet away. Immediately, you realize this thing is dangerous, majestic, more amazing than you ever gave it credit for - and you are no match for it.
I say all that because it’s serves as a very tangible lesson. Have you ever wanted to do something, but once the moment came you couldn’t because a piece of you got scared, a piece you didn’t even know was there? Maybe it’s a hard conversation you need to have, maybe it’s stepping up for a role you’re not sure you can do, maybe it’s considering – just considering – going overseas for two years. Have you ever ignored a problem, or an awesome opportunity, because you know what will come if you face it and its scary?
That’s how I felt about this position in the Middle East. It seemed so daunting, so far from anything I am qualified to do or seemed to fit, that I thought it couldn’t be for me. If I went, I would arrive and flounder. Or drown.
But this shark incident reminded me mostly, not of something, but of Someone. I imagine that’s what being in God’s presence is like; you very quickly get perspective. He is Majesty; I am anything but. He is the Alpha and Omega; I am dust and water. He is all-powerful, and I better drop any falsely placed pride because it’s going to look pretty stupid standing in front of Glory Himself.
But this Almighty, Majestic King calls me beloved and if He’s sending me somewhere, then it’s not about being qualified but being willing. Expanded horizons and deeper waters; I think God’s calling all of us past our self-reliant spheres into a place that requires deeper trust. Not to show us the limit of our abilities, but to show us how limitless He is. Not to show us what we can do, but to let us watch as He accomplishes things we could never imagine. Out in the depths is where holy adventure lies; things that scare and awe and make us praise the God in charge of it all. I encourage you to wade out of shallow waters, trusting God with each step. I promise it’s worth it.