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Holding On While Letting Go
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Holding On and Letting Go

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psalm 56:3).

At the lake, I stood in the shallow water holding onto the rope. All at once, my feet swooshed out from under me. Water swirled over my face. An echoing chant throbbed in my head: Hold on! Don’t let go or you will drown!

Daddy planned his vacation to include the annual church retreat at Lake Nelson. The boys looked forward to showing off their swimming skills. I couldn’t swim but jumped into the car with the bouncy energy of a typical five-year-old. It would be fun to live in a tent for a whole week.

Each morning, the big camp bell sounded the call to meetings. On the last morning, I hurried up the hill to the children’s tent. In the kindergarten section, boys and girls already nearly filled the long wooden bench.

The teacher invited us to stand and stretch while she handed out bells to jingle as we sang the Good Morning song. After the Bible story, we sang a song about angels. When class was over teacher said, “Let’s thank Jesus for sending angels to watch over us.” She prayed, then gave each of us a sticker to put on our lesson paper.

Back at the tent, an older brother took a pail to get water from the nearby pump so we could wash up. Mother set out sandwiches, chips and carrot sticks. After eating and resting awhile, the boys moaned, “We’re steamy hot!”

Daddy suggested getting swimsuits on and head to the lake. Mother agreed. Hobbling barefoot along the path, we talked and laughed with other campers wanting to cool off in the water. Daddy raced the older boys to the water. Mother and little brother sat on the bank to watch the swimmers.

I waded out in the roped-off area for small children. I felt safe holding onto the rope while watching the swimmers. I saw Daddy swimming on his back. Suddenly my feet flipped up and I was on my back, under the water.

Still clutching the rope, I held on for dear life and tried to stand. My thrashing feet couldn’t grip the bottom. I couldn’t get my head above water. I couldn’t breathe. My hands hurt, my arms and legs ached. My hope sank. At that moment the rope shook, got tight and somehow set me on my feet. My fingers were so stiff I could barely let go of the rope.

I looked around to see who had helped me; no one was there. Puzzled, I stumbled back to shore sputtering and coughing, wiping water from my eyes. My brothers laughed. No one seemed to notice my distress or realize how scared I felt.

Wiping away more wetness, I sprawled on the bank until Daddy came and we all trudged back to the tent. Resting on my cot, I wondered: What made the rope shake and tighten? Why wasn’t anyone there when I looked? Did an angel help me?

After a while I remembered something one teacher had said: Jesus can save us no matter where we are, no matter what danger threatens. Riding in the car, I fell asleep thinking, Jesus did send an angel to save me. When I woke up, that idea hugged me all the way home.

Many years later, the terrifying dunk in the lake still troubled me until I finally grasped the truth that the rope was strong, but not taut. Holding onto it didn’t help; it could not save me. Though I can’t explain how, Jesus saved me. Seeing my plight He lifted me up from the overflowing waters. Such great love inspires great faith and gratitude in my heart. He is mighty to save!

That experience helped me learn that there is a time to hold on and a time to let go. It’s important to let go of unreliable things and feelings. It’s vital to hold on to Jesus in all of life’s struggles. The Bible says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

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About Jeanne Woolsey

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