Every summer water safety advocates come out in full force to warn about the dangers of rip currents. Tragically, many ocean lovers have lost their lives due to the channelized currents of powerful flowing waters. The sandy shore need not be far away and the water need not be deep for a rip current to appear and. Rip tides show up in shallow waters to sweep their victims out into the deep.
All my life I've been aware of rip currents and the dangers they pose to ocean (and even lake) swimmers. On family vacations I used to read the beach signs issuing warnings and instructions on how to survive a rip current. In big, bold red type the signs said that swimmers should never fight to break free from a rip current's grip. The water is too strong and swimmers too weak to pull themselves from its powerful clutches. Instead swimmers should do precisely the opposite of what their natural reaction would be: relax.
From the swimmers perspective this is more easily said than done. Try relaxing as an unseen force is pulling you out into the middle of the ocean while you helplessly watch the land recede into the distance. Can you imagine being calm as the sight of the safe, sandy shore gets smaller and smaller? To remain at ease in such a situation requires that the swimmer deliberately and decisively relax. It won't happen naturally but it must happen to ultimately escape the tide's hold and survive to swim another day.
I've never been caught in a rip current but as I've stepped into uncharted oceans on my journey to regain my health I've been recalling the old warnings of beach trips gone by. As I've been wadding in the waters of treatments, taking copious amounts of Lyme killing antibiotics and loading my body with homeopathic medicines, I've found myself caught in healing currents. I've tried to stay out of them by remaining close to shore, careful to keep my hips above water, but I have been unable to avoid their pull. The healing currents come and sweep me out to sea with crushing fatigue, skin outbreaks, pounding headaches and utter exhaustion. I've watched as I've been carried away from the healthy shore and out into the unknown of the healing crisis seas.
When I was first swept away in the tide of the healing currents I fought it. I didn't want to see my progress float off into the distance and I didn't want to end up in a deeper part of the illness ocean. I kicked and tried to paddle my way out but it was hopeless. Every kick sent the security of wellness and vitality further off into the distance. My attempts to escape only resulted in more weakness, more panic and less hope of ever making it back to shore. It was in the midst of one such hopeless current that I recalled the signs at the beach. I closed my eyes and pictured the sign. Don't fight the current.
With vision of the Atlantic and the beach's sandy shore in my mind's eye I decided to embrace the rip current survivalist tactics. I choose to relax and wait for the current to release me. At first it was difficult. Naturally, I still wanted to kick and try to force my way out of the current but with my new motto in mind I started resisting those feelings. Instead of trying to force my way out of the current I welcomed the release of tension and to-do lists. I instructed myself to stop panicking and start picturing the serenity of floating in warm, peaceful waters.
What I discovered is that the rip current tactics work - at least when it comes to oceans of healing. To escape you have to let the current have its way, patiently trusting for it to release you. To survive you must trust that before you can be brought back to shore you must first be taken out into the deep. You have to feel the waters pull you in new directions before you can be released into pools of renewed restoration and well-being.
As I've been swept out into the sea of healing I've learned that healing doesn't happen at the shore line. It begins there but it doesn't end there. True healing, of both body and soul, happens in the transformative channels of the sea's currents. Everlasting restoration and renewal come when we relax into the mighty arms of God, trusting that He will carry us back to shore.