Faith In Open Water {Faith Life Preservers- Day 23}

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Waiting with hope is very difficult, 
but true patience is expressed 
when we must even wait for hope. 
I will have reached the point of greatest strength 
once I have learned to wait for hope. 
George Matheson
Many of you know I have the ever so tiniest obsession with a certain creature from the sea. If you are new to me and have not followed me long I will fill you in, friends. I am slightly shark obsessed. I have never outgrown my grade school inspired fascination with these creatures as well as most of the amazing and mysterious ocean. It inspires within me wonder, fear and awe. Amazement. Of course, knowing the One who created it is also both relief and more awesome, still. But I want to share with you some of my pondering today about faith, hope and the deep blue sea. Maybe there is some encouragement to be found in open water and even bad movies.
Since I am a shark fan (Of course I watch Shark Week!) and the classic movie Jaws, you can imagine that if a movie is released that is about sharks I have to see it! I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau after all and in my imagination I have swam with him on many adventures since early childhood. Sometimes television can be good, I suppose.
Shortly after I got married, a movie had been released called Open Water. Although my hubby and I did not go to the movie theater to see it (thankfully), I talked him into watching it with me one night. He does not share my shark enthusiasm but he graciously agreed.
To say that this movie upset me would be a monumental understatement. The movie infuriated me and at the end of it I stormed out of the living room (my poor hubs had suffered through the whole thing with me) and went into quite a rant about the ending of it. Let me give you some background (or click the link for more details as I don’t recommend seeing the movie, at least until you hear me out-and yes I am giving spoilers, so if you don’t want to know do not read on). The movie is about a couple who goes off on a scuba diving excursion among 18 others. It is a low budget film and feels very real and surreal at the same time. I want to say that what bothered me about this movie is not the filming, or the footage because that was frighteningly real and disturbing on it’s own. It is my understanding that the shark footage was authentic. No mechanical mayhem, as in Jaws. So on that note horribly accurate shark behavior and reality. (OK, that is actually disturbing as well) The story is the thing for me, so let’s get to it. We journey with the couple as they swim off from the others who have signed on for the trip to explore the deep blue sea. The mix ups that occur on the boat during the couple’s absence is filmed and we see that the tally of who is aboard the boat for the agreed upon departing time is inaccurate. The small boat leaves the couple out in open water and returns to port. When the couple finally surface from the deep, they see the boat off in the distance. They assume it will return and the next hours are spent waiting. Add nausea here. We spend the night with them as they are stung by jelly fish, nibbled on by sharks, surrounded by darkness and consumed by fear. They try to keep one another’s hopes up but in the end…this is the clincher. In the end, both are consumed by sharks in a feeding frenzy that starts with the man and ends when (enter rant here) the woman seeing all hope gone removes her gear and sinks into the sea of sharks. 
Enter hopelessness. I have never been more upset with a movie. It angered me because of the utter hopelessness it portrayed. The absence of God. The darkness and void of a seemingly meaninglessness existence and situation. The too late response of the crew recognizing those left behind. The earnest search in morning light. Hopelessness. 
The final scene only fueled my anger more:
 “After Susan slips below the water’s surface, the film scene flashes elsewhere, revealing a fishing crew cutting open a newly-caught shark’s abdomen and stomach, and finding a waterproof diving camera, ostensibly that of Daniel and Susan. One of the fishermen asks off-handedly to another, “Wonder if it works?” (Source: Wikpedia)
See it bothered me because I know that even if…
He is God. 
He is good. 
He exists. 
He is not void.
We are not without hope.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution 
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future,
 nor any powers,  neither height nor depth,
 nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us 
from the love of God
 that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 35, 38

My paraphrase: 
No bad movie, or frenzied, 
flesh consuming shark 
can consume my soul.
Christ owns me.
I am in the palm of His hand
wherever I am. 
Like Jonah in the Whale’s belly or
 Job surrounded by foolish friends. 
His love never lets me go.
His love will never let you go.
Always hope.
In Him.
One more thing: Beware of Bad movies. 
But, even a bad movie can be a reminder of God’s goodness!
God is Sovereign.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:8-10

I have included the official movie trailer clip
and have to confess I still feel sick when I watch EVEN this much.
So use discretion if you watch.
Not for the fainthearted. 

31 Days of Faith Life Preservers 
October 1-31, 2012
See all other Faith Life Preserver Posts HERE.

Check out all of the other 
31 Day Topics and Bloggers HERE!

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Anticipating Shark Week {My True Shark Encounter}

National Geographic Photo: Great site for great SHOTS!

There is one week each year I allow myself to unabashedly, without guilt, or restrictions to bask in the light of my Television screen. Shark Week is that most anticipated and adored week. Discovery Channel hosts this amazing, intense, sometimes disturbing event which has many enthusiastic fans.
You are probably thinking, “Egad, Why?”
I don’t know why.
But I will tell you it started in Middle School. 
My 6th Grade Science Project was on Sharks, and after that my shark intrigue and fascination grew.
Of course, over the years it was fed intermittently at best, with those Jacques Cousteau specials.
 I saw Jaws when it opened in theaters.
At twelve, I found it difficult to go in my Aunt’s pool on the deep end for years, 
forget the ocean.Youthful imagination.
But then came cable. 
Shark specials, which tapped into this dark fascination shared by many 
and Discovery Channel’s ultimate triumph: Shark Week,
which starts August 12, 2012.
I may have to have a Bloggy vacation that week, friends.
I confess I am a crazy Shark Week and Shark fan!
Let me share with you a real life shark encounter I had while visiting Florida
in 1994 on July 31st.
I was with friends and excited for my first beach visit of the vacation. 
We headed to Waveland Beach – the Southern most end of Jensen Beach
(live web cam- really cool-scroll to bottom).
Understand, I am one who is known at times to be oblivious to my surroundings. 
However, I was with 3 other people.
I know that the beach had a number of beach goers that day. 
Lifeguards were on duty.
Swimming was allowed. 
Par for the course beach day.
We were enjoying the beautiful clear green water, standing in about waist to chest deep.
We were actually facing away from the beach and toward the ocean.
I suggest, you never do that.
Always keep one eye toward the lifeguards and shore.
I really do, now. 
I feel I am one with the Lifeguards and I frequently touch base 
with them when I hit the beach.
To this day. 
However, on this day while I was freely frolicking, I failed to do it.
This incident was not without an insightful lesson, either.
 God really showed me something about myself, 
who I was, and who I believed I was with this incident.
He revealed to me the very lack of my love for others in this moment.
He also showed me my own mortality with this brief brush 
with what could have been, but was not to be.
However a defining moment, it was for me.
We were immersed in conversation, unaware that during our time of oblivious wading, 
the beach mood and dynamic at the shore had drastically changed.

Let me speak to the day as I remember:

I am not sure of what prompted our attention.
But as if in slow motion we turn toward the beach.

What we face now is at approximately 40-50  feet between us and the sand and to our shock, 
We are standing alone in the water.
I imagine about 4 1/2 feet, deep water.

What I see causes a feeling in my gut and heart that 
I have failed to experience in my life prior and since.
Thank God.

Fear that is so present that death itself feels near.
I believe I smelled death that day.

On the shore the lifeguard stands, waving
 frantically, holding a red flag, as the beach goers stare at us waving and jumping as if they 
could make us move faster with their own movement.

What we see is not encouraging friends, I sense fear in the hundreds of faces facing us.
I see the backsides of a handful of people, ankle deep having already hastily exited the water.

It gets worse. 
Of the three others with me, I am furthest to the left and closest to what I see skimming through the water.
About 10 feet away a large black-grey mass is swimming to my left and I feel fear as my mind 
processes the size. 
Bigger than me.
Coming. Toward. Me.

We are all pushing in toward the beach and the only thing I see or feel is the moment.
It looms large and I feel as if I am about to fall into an unknown, incomprehensible abyss. 
This moment, even as I write it wells up from within.
My eyes are piercing the lifeguard as if she is Jesus.
I never let my eyes depart from her.
There is no doubt that I must not look back at what I dare not see.
There is not a second to even consider it. 
It is forever etched in my memory banks.
Ten to Twelve feet of grey doom under clear green beauty. 
Death wells up in me and feels as close as suffocation but for 
the adrenaline coursing through my body.
I care for no one or nothing at this moment but my own survival.
I see nothing but a shore of freaking people and one life guard coaching me from
what I know pursues me.
I forget I am with friends.
I am alone.
We make it to shore.
People applaud, look relieved, smile at us, some back pats for the guys and 
thumbs up from others.
Here is what the lifeguard said when we got out:
She looked at me visibly shaken and said,
 “That shark was coming right at YOU!” 
She added, “I’ve never seen a shark swim so fast towards people before.”

Thus began my “shark magnet” reputation and joking.

We decided to head off for lunch.
We had asked the Lifguard why she thought the shark darted so suddenly.
She did not know.
How could she?
We debated the possibilities and enjoyed retelling
our shark tale over chowder
from the safety of a
surf-side table.

There is much we do not understand about the creatures God created.
All cannot be understood or known.

I do want to say, I have an immense love and appreciation for these mysterious creatures.
I am grateful that the shark darted away on that fateful day.

The bottom line is we share this good earth, with creatures that He has put here.
It’s their world, too.
Remember that when you go in the water.

Days left until Shark Week Starts:

Happy Swimming, Friends!

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