(Thanks to my dear friend, Peggy, for bringing this memory to mind.)
My Dad was a tremendous swimmer. As a young man he loved to watch the Johnny Weissmuller movies and patterned his swim stroke after the Olympic swimmer and actor.
When my siblings and cousins were young we used to go to a place to swim which was part lake, part swimming pool. There was a permanent raft in the lake part of the pool and my daddy would point at us from that raft. Then he would dive in and swim underwater all the way to us in the shallow end. I remember he looked like a huge shark coming at us under the water. When he reached us, he would grab us and start tickling us. It didn't impress me at the time (I was too scared watching him coming toward us) that he swam all that way on one breath, but it sure does now.
My dad's way of teaching us all to swim was to take us to that raft in the deep end and throw us off into the water. He would then wait for us to swim back to the raft. Having watched daddy swim, it seemed we knew how to imitate him enough to make our way back. We all managed to swim and not a one of us drowned in the process.
It never really occurred to me before that my daddy was not afraid of the water, for himself or for us.
As a Marine Engineer, his whole life was about the water. He could swim well and he knew it. He knew too, that if we started to show any sign of trouble in the deep end, he could be at our side in a flash -- or perhaps a splash. He knew the deep end would make us swim in a way the shallow end never could. As long as He was on the raft watching us, there was no way we could come to harm. Once we learned not to be afraid in the deep end, he would begin to teach us the mechanics of the swim stroke. He taught us not only to swim, but how to tread water and how to float.
Our Heavenly Father is much the same. There are times He knows we need the deep end. We need to not be able to feel the secure footing under our feet so that we learn to swim, or tread water, or even just float as we trust Him. As long as He is on the raft watching us, we can come to no harm. Our time in the deep end teaches us to trust Him, to know His eye is always on us. Then He teaches us how to tread water and to float resting in Him no matter the depth of the sea beneath us.
"For He commandeth, raiseth stormy ,
which lifteth up thereof."
"And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another,
What manner of Man is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"