I find myself constantly lifting up silent prayers for protection as we're biking the streets of Tianjin, and I see my children (following the example of their father) biking more aggressively than I wish they would! Sometimes, I see something that especially frightens me, and I just can't keep silent. The other night as we were biking home from visiting friends, a crazy motorcyclist ran a red light and came dangerously close to running over Joshua, so I yelled out his name from the other side of the intersection.
Biking here provides me with constant reminders that our lives are in God's hands, because I know that I cannot physically protect my children (or my husband!) from each potentially life-threatening scenerio on the streets. All that I can do is pray (and sometimes shout warnings).
When we were in Malyasia over Chinese New Year, God provided me with a different kind of opportunity to learn this same lesson about accepting my limitations and recognizing my dependence on God. One morning at high tide, our family decided to kayak out to a nearby island and explore. Because the hotel only had one single person kayak and a boat that could barely seat three people, I volunteered to swim while the rest of my family used the boats.
I was grateful that day for Joshua, who paddled just in front of me in the kayak on the way to the island, guiding me and and giving me words of encouragement. On the way from the island back to shore, however, the sun was right in my eyes and I couldn't see or hear anyone! Somehow we drifted apart from each other.
As I was swimming back to shore alone, I started panicking about the kids and whether or not they were all ok. After about half an hour, Charly paddled up with no kids in his boat (because he was concerned about me) and told me he'd left Joshua and Jordan, swimming toward the shore in the middle of the ocean.
I have to say that while I was really thankful to see Charly and to be rescued at that moment, I also seriously questioned his judgement! I quickly scanned the scene and did not see our children anywhere. As I paddled with all my strength in the direction that Charly said he had left them, I had visions of them going under the waves and our never seeing them again.
Even though the kids and I had been swimming laps regularly for the past several months, I still doubted their ability to swim in the ocean, and I feared the unknown scary potentials in the ocean water. Just moments before Charly had rescued me, I had encountered some unknown scary something myself (either a big floating blob of mud or a jellyfish!) That was why I was so glad to see him, and was one of the reasons that I feared for my children!
Fortunately, God has blessed me with a level-headed husband who is not easily given to panic and whose mind does not fill with images of the worst case scenerios. Just as he had surprised me by rescuing me immediately after my scary encounter with the mysterious blob, so he amazed me again by guiding our boat to the exact spot where Joshua and Jordan were swimming away quite happily. (I was still blinded by that sun, however, and did not see them until we were almost on top of them!)
Thankfully, our children take after their father, and saw their situation as an adventure, not a crisis! They had no fears about being left alone in the ocean to possibly be eaten by sharks or to be pulled out to sea by the current. I tried not to let them see how relieved and thankful I was that they were still alive, and quietly traded my place in the boat with them so that I could swim the rest of the way in to shore with them nearby in the boat.
Added to my fears of Joshua and Jordan drowning were my fears of CJ flipping his kayak and having no one close by to help him. He had paddled on ahead by himself in the single person kayak since our rental time was up. Thankfully though, I was the only one in our family who had any worries during our outing, and our whole family ended up safely on the shore in one piece.
I decided after our little island adventure though that I definitely prefer swimming in the pool than in the ocean because it feels so much safer (and I do like to feel safe!)
Before Charly had rescued me, while I was swimming with the sun directly in my eyes, I just kept praying that even though I couldn't see my family, God would keep them safe. Just after we had left the island (and before we drifted apart), Charly had told me that there were three tall buildings on the shore that I could use as my focal points. How thankful I was for those wise words! I just kept swimming toward those buildings and asking God to replace my worry with His peace. I could not physically do anything to help my family. But God knew where they were and He was able to keep them safe. My job was to keep swimming toward the goal and to not worry about all that could happen. Trust Him.
I love the way that David prepared for the building of the Temple that his son Solomon would build. David said, "using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God." (1 Chronicles 29:2) David did all that he could physically do, and then he trusted the rest of the work to God. He prayed, "Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, decrees, and principles, and to build this Temple for which I have made all these preparations." (1 Chronicles 29:19)
I too want to do all that I can do for my family, and leave the rest for God to do all that He can do! Like David, I want to be clear on what my part is and what God's part is. I think a lifelong lesson for me will be to learn to trust God completely for what is out of my control (which includes most things!). I know that nothing good comes from worrying, but I have to fight that response, as it comes quite naturally to me!
Our lives are completely in His hands, at every moment, wherever we are, and I can rest in that truth.