The Deadman's Float
by Laura Cowan
When I was six years old, I nearly drowned in the Feather River at a place called Bidwell Bar. The sandy bottom was firm under my feet, and then… it wasn’t. I went under. My dad rescued me by pulling me up and out by my hair. Shortly after, he decided to teach me the dead man’s float. It was a long process- especially for a man like Dad, who had not an ounce of patience- or so I thought, but eventually, I learned to stop fighting the water. I also learned that just before my head went under, his arms were there to hold me up. And one day, I learned how to more than survive: I learned to swim; to breathe, to cut a path through water; to enjoy the rhythm, and the freedom that feels like flying.
Years ago, John and I witnessed a murder. The gunman was connected to a mafia group, and a hitman was assigned to kill John. With this, my terra firma shifted. My feet could not touch bottom, and I sank into mirky depths of depression. My questions were, “Where were You, God? Where are you now?”
He answered by teaching me the deadman’s float- He taught me to stop fighting the uncontrollable currents of life, to completely yield and relax into what I could not see- His hands beneath me, catching me, lifting me up for air. I not only survived, I learned to swim. I learned He WAS there, He IS there, and underneath are His Everlasting Arms. I swim in the paths of His commands. It feels like flying.
Life threatens to drown us. But if we will stop flailing our arms long enough to hear His voice and trust Him, relax into Him, we’ll not only survive, we will enjoy a freedom from fear that feels like flying.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown…for I am the Lord Your God…Your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2a, 3a
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