Deep calls to deep…in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7
An excerpt from “Into the Deep” by Lauren Gaskill
The clock digits rolled to 2:00 a.m., and I groaned, scolding myself as I tossed and turned in bed for the hundredth time.
You have nothing to worry about, and you’re being ridiculous. Just calm down and go to sleep, I whispered to myself as I felt the waves of another anxiety attack creep up inside me. Sleep is a luxury for college students, and at this point I’d be lucky to have a few hours of rest. Every minute counted too, because I had a psychology exam at 8:00 a.m. But knowing this didn’t stop my mind from racing, my throat from closing, my heart from palpitating, and my stomach from churning.
I clutched my comforter tightly and prayed for deliverance, but nothing changed. Instead I sank deeper into anxiety with each word I prayed. I wanted to jump out of my dorm room window and run until my lungs gave out. I wanted to scream until the anxiety drained out of my veins. I wanted to feel anything other than the sheer panic and helplessness overtaking my mind.
Minute after minute rolled by, and with no relief in sight I desperately reached for my phone and texted a friend from my Bible study group.
“Help! Please pray for me,” I typed. “Feeling lost, alone, and overwhelmed amid another anxiety attack. I don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid.”
A few minutes later my phone lit up with a reply.
“My dearest Lauren, trust me when I say everything is going to be OK! God is with you, and He wants to use this for your good. Have faith! Trust Him and hold on to hope! He will see you through, and with His help you will overcome the waves. Always remember you are a daughter of the Most High King. You are priceless and beautiful in His eyes, and in Him you have nothing to fear.”
As true as her text may have been, it didn’t make me feel any better about myself or my situation. At this point in my life, I’d been struggling with anxiety attacks on and off for two years since my junior year of high school when I began having some health issues. To the outside world, I was an accomplished student and swimmer who had it all together, but on the inside I felt like I was drowning—lost in a sea of anxiety, depression, and unexplained chronic pain that was tearing my faith to shreds.
Week after week, I listened to pastors talk about a God who delivers us from our problems, but hearing their words only made me more frustrated and confused. I wondered: If God loves me, then why isn’t He rescuing me? If God is good, then why do I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of despair?
Somehow I had missed the explanation of how a life with Christ doesn’t always mean crystal clear waters or sunny blue skies; how God is not distant but swims with us through the deep waters of life; how God not only sends help in these situations—He is our help, despite what we might feel or think.
When my life didn’t turn around and my health worsened, I began to doubt God’s goodness. But worse than that, I lost faith in God’s ability to save me. I tried to soothe the ache growing inside me by reading and studying the Bible, but none of it felt real. The stories seemed like a distant fairy tale—something only for people who had it all together and not for someone as messed up as me.
It was a slow process, but somewhere along the way anxiety and depression greatly diminished my faith. I stopped believing things would get better. I stopped believing God had a plan or cared about my future. I watched the world change and move on without me, and with each passing month the “water” in my lungs rose a little higher.
I was drowning.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever found yourself drowning in deep waters, doubting God’s goodness and desire to personally come to your rescue? I know I have. I often find myself floundering in doubt and fear. Maybe you can relate.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about let me press you to think harder. I know people who say they don’t fear, doubt or worry but I’m going to push back on that one. The only way that is possible is if you cling to absolutely nothing except for God Himself, submitting every single area and detail of your life fully and completely to Him.
You may not identify the doubt and fear and worry in your life because it exerts itself as something else like anger, manipulation or control. But I’m pretty confident that we all have been into the deep! And some of you, like me, find yourself going back and forth from keeping your head comfortably above the water’s surface to being overwhelmed by the waves of the sea.
If Lauren’s words resonate with you as they have with me, I encourage you to read more from her book “Into the Deep.” I found her words refreshing and powerful.
When I began reading “Into the Deep” I was wrestling with God as I sensed a call to leave the comfort of my job and step into a new role. I desperately wanted to say yes to God and His adventure for me, but fear and doubt were holding me back. I struggled with the worry of what others would think, the fear of failure and the inability to trust that God would be enough.
“Into the Deep” strengthened my faith by simply acknowledging our common ground…that we all find ourselves struggling to keep our head above the waters of life. Lauren’s stories, truths about God, and thoughtful questions helped me dive deeper with God, discovering what lies beneath the surface in me and gave me encouragement to take a step of faith.
I look forward to sharing my personal journey with you in the weeks to come. If there is a way I can pray for you as we learn to live radically different and dive into a life of courageous faith, please comment below. I’d love to lift you up!
You can find Lauren’s book, “Into the Deep” on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other books distributors. I’ve had the chance to get to know Lauren and can’t wait to see what God will continue to do in and through her.