The activity I was looking forward to most on vacation was scuba diving. I have talked Troy into parasailing, snorkeling and now scuba diving. (I have yet to convince him that sky diving and hang gliding are good ideas – he’s finally said yes to hot air ballooning (though he’ll deny it) so that’s on the list).
I had signed us up for the Beginner’s Scuba Diving Excursion in Cozumel and I could hardly wait to get there. Our instructors were fabulous and I felt confident that this was going to be a great experience.
We had our beginner’s orientation and I was ready to get into to the water.
When we got into the water, Troy and I had a conversation something like this…
Troy said, “I don’t know if I can do this. I think I’m claustrophobic.”
To which I relpied, “Nah. You can do this. You’ve come this far. You have to try it.”
After the instructor went over the details one more time, she looked at me and said, “Let’s practice.”
So, we put our mouth pieces in our mouths and down we went. We just sat down until our heads were completely underwater. Now…. I have to admit. At first I was thinking, Now, I see why Troy was so apprehensive. You feel so closed in. You have to tell yourself to breathe at first. (breathing underwater is obviously not normal)
We came back up and she told me I did a great job. Troy’s turn. Troy was about as excited to go down into the water as he would be to have a root canal. But I told him how fabulous it was and assured him there was nothing to it. (I was hoping by the time he came back up I would’ve convinced myself of it.)
When Troy surfaced he said, “I don’t know about this. I’m claustrophobic. I don’t think I can breathe underwater.”
I said, “You’re going to love it. Just go down and if you don’t want to stay just come back to the top.” (I’m so glad he lets me talk him into things he doesn’t want to do – he’s just nice that way)
So… down we go….
At first, I had a hard time going deeper so three different times the instructor came over and filled my vest with more lead weights. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first. Especially as I started to sink. However, I quickly got the hang of breathing and the beautiful view underwater washed all my fear away. (yes, that was a pun – I’m corny like that)
I was having a big time exploring underwater. The fish were beautiful. A big white fish with black stripes came swimming by me. It was awesome! Fish were everywhere! Now, the miracle is that I did not kill myself underwear. I’m afraid to touch fish. They gross me out! How I managed to not stroke out I’ll never know. But… I was down about 30 feet, fish were surrounding me and it was absolutely amazing!
At one point I looked for Troy and couldn’t find him. Sure enough. He was having a hard time breathing so he had gone to the surface. One of the instructors went up with him and helped him slow his breathing down. When you feel all hemmed in, you begin to breathe faster and that made him nervous underwater. I’m not sure that he even realized he was that claustrophic until he got engulfed in the ocean. Of all things…. he’s claustrophobic. (not good for scuba diving – he’ll get over it, though, I’m sure)
I was thinking about what it means to be claustrophobic. One definition is: uncomfortaby hemmed in.
That’s exactly how Troy felt underwater. He felt very uncomfortably hemmed in. On all sides. He said he felt out of control. Closed in. Trapped.
And then I thought….
You know, a lot of people feel like that. Not just underwater or in small spaces. But in life.
- They feel trapped in a bad relationship.
- They feel like their life is spinning out of control.
- They feel like the pressure is too much to handle.
- They just feel uncomfortably hemmed in on every side.
If you feel that way, I have a Scripture verse for you. Memorize it. Believe it. It goes like this…
You (God) hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5
When it seems like all of your problems are closing in on you and you can’t breathe, envision this. Envision Almighty God, your Prince of Peace, and He has you hemmed in. He’s behind you. He’s before you. He’s all around you. If your problem is going to get to you, it’s going to have to go through Him. If He allows it. He has laid His hand upon you and He will never leave your side.
Troy said, he thinks he would like scuba diving if he can just learn to breathe underwater. He also thinks he can get rid of the fear of the water being all around him. He just has to practice and trust his equipment.
Like Troy, you don’t have to fear what’s around you. Take comfort knowing that your God hems you in and He’s as close to you as you will allow Him to be.
There’s no problem. No mountain. No valley. No ocean that can overtake you when God is all around you. Just practice trusting Him and know that He will bring you safely through.