"You're gonna need a bigger boat."-Roy Scheider, from the movie Jaws
Many times in life we find ourselves doubting our abilities. Just like Roy Scheider’s character, we think the boat is too small. The shark is just too big.
However, we forget that every situation we are in, every task we need to accomplish, each opportunity presented to us, has been placed there by God. And if God has placed it before us and has directed us to go forward, then we can be assured that our boat is just the right size to get us where He wants us.
A few years back our church was doing a beach baptism. My husband and I were raised catholic and had been baptized as babies. However, since becoming believers and followers of Christ, we had not been baptized.
Acts 2:41a (NASB) So then, those who had received his word were baptized.
Since we have lived near the Jersey shore all of our lives, this sounded like a very fitting way for us to be baptized. We were both in agreement that we needed to do it, so we decided this was the time.
Now I don’t know what I thought a beach baptism was, but after we signed up, I became a little nervous. You see, we were going to be baptized according to scripture. That means submersion. Completely under water. Normally I wouldn’t have had a problem with this in the baptismal pool in the sanctuary of our church. But this was going to be complete submersion in the ocean.
Where Jaws lives.
In case you didn’t know. I don’t swim in the ocean. I’ll sit in a beach chair on the beach. I might even walk in the water till my ankles are covered. But I do NOT go into the ocean. There are sharks in the ocean.
I’ve seen the movie. I watch shark week every August. It’s not that I’m afraid or anything, I just don’t want to take any chances. And really, were people meant to go in the ocean? I’m not so sure.
But God had clearly put this on my heart to be baptized in the ocean. I’d told my husband we were going to do this together, so I couldn’t back out.
The day came.
I watched as my pastors walked waaaaaay out in the water.
There were a lot of people that day so I had plenty of time to contemplate what was in that water and all the terrible things that were going to happen to me when I went out there. Rip current? Jellyfish? Sharks?
Then it was my turn.
I started walking. And let me just say, it may sound silly to you, but walking out into that ocean was extremely difficult for me. And oh, I don’t even want to know what I was stepping on in that water!!
When I reached the spot where my pastors were, the water was up to my chest. Much deeper than I have ever gone out into the ocean.
Then there were hands on both sides of me. I heard my pastor speak the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. I went completely down under that water.
It was quick, it was painless, it was....………incredible.
Even now as I write these words my heart is beating faster and I feel the adrenaline rushing through my body as if I were experiencing it all over again. I came up out of that water feeling different, changed in some way. I felt God in my heart like I had never had before. Even if we are facing a great big shark and we are on a very small boat.
The Bible says this in Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (NASB)
God created us. He plans our life from before we were born. He has things He wants us to do in this life. It doesn’t matter whether we think we are capable. We have been given everything we need to accomplish what he has planned for us. There is no need to be afraid.
There’s another story in scripture about a boat that I am reminded of when I think about what happens when we are obedient to God. Luke 5:4-7 “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets." When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.” If they had not followed His command they would have missed out on all those fish. So many fish, they needed another boat. Did you catch that? They needed a bigger boat.
Had I not taken that difficult walk out into the ocean that day I know I would have missed out on something. Sure, I could have been baptized at church in the little pool and it would have been just fine. However, God had another way in mind, one that would cause me to do something that I was afraid to do. When I came up out of that water I was overflowing. I may not have been overflowing with fish as the disciples were, but I was overflowing. Overflowing with the confidence that God is with me no matter what I’m doing and He will see me through.
Isn’t that always His way?
Oh, that doesn’t mean you’ll find me swimming laps in the ocean every chance I get. I still don’t go in the ocean.
But that day, because God asked me to, I did.
And there wasn’t a shark in sight.