Posted on February 28, 2013 - by Shari Barr
A little over a year ago my husband surprised me with roundtrip airline tickets to Maui. On arrival in our tropical paradise, we perused the scads of flyers in the resort lobby trying to decide which activities and excursions we wanted to try. After much discussion, we decided on several, one of which included a boat trip to a nearby island, Molokini, to snorkel along the coral reef.
This may sound wonderful, but there was a problem. I don’t like water. Or more accurately—deep water terrifies me because I never learned to swim. I must have been determined that day because I convinced my husband I could do it. After all, I had snorkeled once, years ago, but in much shallower water.
The day of our excursion arrived and our boat, crammed with tourists, left the dock. The captain began explaining the details of our trip, casually mentioning that snorkelers should rent wet suits for their buoyancy because there were no life jackets on board. Gulp. You say what? No life jackets? Surely I didn’t hear him right. Unfortunately I did, though.
While he instructed the divers on proper snorkeling procedures, I began to worry if I could handle this. Everyone else seemed so sure of themselves, eager to get in the water and begin the dive. Me? Backing out was looking better and better all the time.
After he finished his demonstration, I pulled the captain aside and asked him if he was sure the wet suit would hold me up since I didn’t know how to swim. Apparently, not many non-swimmers go snorkeling, because he looked at me like I was nuts. He assured it would keep me afloat but glanced at my husband and asked, “Are you going to stay with her?”
“Yep,” my husband nodded.
After anchoring alongside Molokini, I let everyone else get off before me, delaying the inevitable as long as possible. Finally my turn was up. I climbed down the ladder at the back of the boat and sat on the bottom rung as I slipped my feet into the fins. I put on my goggles, took the paddle board the tour diver handed me (for baby snorkelers like me) and prayed like crazy. “Oh dear God, help me. Please.”
I glanced nervously at my husband waiting patiently for me in the water. I clutched the paddle board in both hands, pushing one end toward him, begging him not to let go. He promised, grabbed it with one hand, and then I slipped off the rung into the chilly waters of the ocean. He tugged me away from the boat, and suddenly an overwhelming fear enveloped me. “I don’t like this,” I cried out.
Mike calmly assured me I’d be fine and suggested I put on my snorkel and put my face in the water. All I could think about was the deep, deep water surrounding me. Putting my face in the water was something I didn’t want to consider right now. But I did, praying all the while, asking God to help me. I breathed through the snorkel like the instructor had taught us. A peace washed over me, and I felt my fears floating away. My husband continued to tug me via the paddle board round and round. The sights beneath me in the crystal clear sea were simply breathtaking. Swimming among the sea turtles and tropical fish was one of the highlights of the trip—something I’ll never forget.
I couldn’t have done it if my husband hadn’t been at my side, but a greater power took away my fear. God knew my weaknesses and helped me through a time when I needed it most.
Now, if someone asked if I’d snorkel again, I’d answer “yes” without hesitation. I can do anything through Christ which strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.