Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

I’ve had the undeserved privilege of snorkeling in the waters off Maui, Oahu, The Bahama’s and The British Virgin Islands. My first attempt was on our honeymoon and the seas were especially rough that day. I struggled to learn how to breathe only in and out of my mouth and forcefully blow air out of the snorkel to expel water. Early into our excursion, waves began crashing over my heard and I began to panic, feeling like I was going to drown. After swallowing too much water I was forced back to the catamaran while Doug dove to the depths, petting sea turtles and snapping pictures of exotic fish.

Having snorkeled a handful of times since then, I felt confident that I would thoroughly enjoy 6 days of exploring the uncharted waters off Peter Island, but my maiden voyage was cut short. On our first full day on the island, Doug and I strapped on our flippers and facemasks and dove into the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean, swimming towards the rocky edge of White Bay. In the first few minutes I saw more fish then I had on all my other snorkeling adventures- combined! I was stoked. But then…we entered deep waters with powerful waves that continued to pull me towards the gigantic boulders on the coast. As salty water continued to pour into my snorkel, I tried and tried to remember to do as I had been taught, but I quickly began to panic. I surfaced multiple times, asking Doug for help and he patiently re-iterated what I needed to do. “Relax, Jodie…blow in and out of your mouth (not your nose) and when water comes in your snorkel, blow out….hard!” After a few more failed attempts, he even switched masks with me- thinking perhaps it wasn’t user error. It was. Switching back to my original mask I stuck my face back in the water, determined to see more fish.

Gurgle, gurgle, choke….swim to the surface…..spit.

I was exhausted, my stomach hurt and I was DONE. As I made my way back towards the beach I asked the Lord to help me relax and be able to enjoy snorkeling with my husband for the remainder of our trip.

Two days later, we donned our snorkel gear again, jumped in the water & headed towards the rocky coast of Honeymoon Beach. This time I rode the waves – just like a professional. I encountered schools and schools of beautiful fish and dozens of exquisitely designed coral. Reveling in my new found freedom to roam the seas, I began asking the Lord “would you pleeeease let Doug and I see a stingray?” Three days later, while riding the waves on my 2nd attempt to stand up on a paddleboard in Dead Chest Bay, I caught a glimpse of a moving rock. It was a stingray!!! I yelled at Doug on the shore and he quickly ran to grab our snorkel masks. Both of us were able to follow (at a safe distance!) that extraordinary creature and watch him glide across the bottom of the sea. The following day, I swam across a starfish in the same area. Bonus!

When I began feeling like I was drowning in my marriage a decade ago, I clung to God’s promise of restoration and redemption to endure the fierce waves. Even when the waters continued to pour over my snorkel and choke the breath out of me, God was developing strength of character in me. Even when Doug continued to disappoint me and our lives felt like we were being smashed against the gigantic boulders on the shoreline, God was developing confident hope in me.

When we had 4 children under the age of 7, with 1 of them labeled “special needs,” I clung to God’s promise of training them in the way they should go to endure the fierce waves. Even when the waters continued to pour over my snorkel and choke the breath out of me, God was developing strength of character in me. Even when I would have to discipline our children over and over and over again for the same defiant, manipulative, deceitful behavior, God was developing confident hope in me.

Now, as I look back over those years, I realize every problem and every trial has helped me develop endurance, strength of character and a confident hope in the only One who offers salvation from the fierce waves. And I can honestly say, I have not been disappointed.




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