Have you ever heard Jim Gaffigan, one of my favorite comedians, talk about becoming a father of four kids? It is hilarious! Regardless of the number of kids you have you’ll laugh your head off. And for all of us with four kids or more… you’ll laugh good and hard, but also feel the deep truth of it.
As part of his schtick on having a fourth child, he says, “Imagine you are drowning… then imagine someone handing you a baby.”
Friends, it’s hilariously funny… and so true. It was especially true for me. I laugh at this joke every time. But I also felt like I was actually drowning in life when we found out we were having a fourth child. It was hard. Sometimes you just have to laugh at the hard in life to keep yourself from crying.
Jim Gaffigan, that man speaks truth through his humor. My Joy Baby, she brings us joy, but life feels way more complex with her in the mix. I had a friend say to me last week at the end of our texts arranging a play date for our two littles, who are only 5 days apart, she texted me, “I don’t know how you do it, this four kids thing.” To be honest, I don’t know how I do it most days either. You just do it, because you have to.
Over time I found myself coming up from the drowning feeling that our fourth child brought to my life… until last week. Last week I felt myself going under again. A complex and exhausting life with four kids, a husband’s full work life, my own work commitments and making sure the day-to-day stuff was happening, then some very difficult things added into that mix… well, it became too much.
I’m assuming I’m not the only one who has felt like they are drowning in life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt that the things your life was holding were starting to take you under.
Maybe it’s not being handed a fourth child in the midst of a life that already felt like too much. Maybe it is struggling with wondering how you are going to make ends meet and then being laid off. Or maybe it is a diagnosis that turned your world upside down and left you struggling for air. Or maybe it is a family conflict or crisis that is all-consuming and is creating debilitating stress.
There are any number of things that can happen that can suddenly cause us to start sinking beneath the waves of the “too much” of life.
At the beginning of last week as I felt myself drowning and I remembered this Jim Gaffigan schtick, I also thought of Peter. Good old Peter, who one night, after Jesus surprised him and the other disciples by walking up to their boat on the water, decides to get out and try this walking on the water thing. Then suddenly Peter starts looking at those big ol’ waves coming up on him and he finds himself going down.
And what does Peter do?
He cries out… “Lord, save me.”
What else can you say when you feel yourself going under?
Save me! Help God!
Powerless to do anything when we feel ourselves drowning, we can only cry out for help.
It’s what follows in the text that captured me. It says “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him…”
The Message is even better, “Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.”
Did you hear that?
Jesus didn’t hesitate. Immediately…
There is no pause between Peter’s cry for help and Jesus responding to his cry. It is one fluid movement, the cry and the rescue.
And so last week, when I felt myself going under, the only thing to say was “Lord, save me.”
And you know what, I’m already seeing the ways that Jesus doesn’t hesitate…
A walk with a friend who helped me sift through and discern some things. Another friend who encouraged me to reach out to my “inner circle” for help and they came rallying around me. An unexpected sharing of a story and similar experience that helped me feel not so alone and opened the door to another person who “gets it,” who gets what I’m going through. And the invitation from God to release some commitments to a friend who is picking them up for me so I can make space to deal with some of this “too much” life is holding for me right now.
Jesus does not hesitate, friends. He will not hesitate to reach out and grab you when you start going under. You need only say the words “Save me.”
God has also put in my path this week a verse to reinforce this truth from Peter’s water walking and sinking episode. A passage from the Psalms that was written in the form of a prayer in my Lenten devotional.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands…” Psalm 91:1-2, 9-11
The only thing to say when the “too much” of life starts pulling you under is “God save me. Be my refuge.”
Friends, God promises, he won’t hesitate.
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Artwork Yongsung Kim “The Hand of God” https://www.foundationarts.com/the-hand-of-god