Catfish and Dead Bodies

It seemed like we were scuba diving in chocolate milk. My coworker John and I couldn’t see our own hands in front of our faces, much less each other. Our summer job was underwater bridge inspection in and around the Montgomery area. 

We’d been given a crash course in what to “look” for, but we had no idea we’d have to treat the concrete bridge pilings like a braille tablet. Our fingers had to be our eyes. We were taught to methodically work our way down each side of a piling to check for at least three things: 

  • Cracks, caused by overloading the bridge 
  • Holes, created by a collision of some sort 
  • Scouring, caused by erosion between the piling and the riverbed 

Impossible to ignore were tales of humongous catfish large enough to swallow us whole and dead bodies that had been fished out of that murky Alabama River. Yet, John and I became determined to contain our wild imaginations. If we couldn’t see it we didn’t need to imagine it, or we’d scare ourselves right out of a job.  

One noteworthy day, John swam toward one piling while I swam to another to begin our inspection. About 20 or 30 feet down I slid my hands across the concrete surface and felt a good-sized hole. I slowly eased my fingers around its perimeter and realized it was shaped like a stop sign. Since I couldn’t see anything, I did my best to form a mental picture to share with the engineer in the boat, then upward I swam. After describing what I’d discovered in great detail, his only question was, “How deep is it?” I immediately shot back with, “Well, I didn’t stick my hand into it!” He insisted that he needed to know, so I hesitantly went back down to relocate it. 

I’m sure the water pulsated with every thunderous beat of my heart. I wished I’d not heard those tales of catfish and dead bodies. Just as my timid hand was about to enter the hole, something swished past my shoulder. 

Yes, it IS possible to scream with a mouthpiece in your mouth! 

I swam to the surface as fast as my flippers could carry me. When I popped to the surface, I was coughing and spewing out who-knows-what to the engineer. All I knew was that I was NOT going back down there – at least not that day!

About that time, John popped up laughing his fool head off. Unbeknownst to me, the engineer told him what I was doing, and they agreed he should go down and check it out too. What had brushed against me was John’s fins. In return, he got slapped fast and furiously with my fins as I made a hasty getaway to the surface. He realized he’d scared me, and I was most happy he’d been slapped. Why do men think it’s so funny to scare women?

Once all three of us gained control of ourselves, the engineer explained the purpose of the hole. Don’t ask me what it was because I wasn’t listening. 

Sometimes, inspecting our hearts can seem just as scary as sticking our hand into a deep, dark hole. On the surface our lives appear functional, so why muddy the waters with an inspection? Some say they’re too busy to take time to inspect, much less make repairs. Some buy into the lie that if they ignore what lies beneath the surface it will go away. However, just like bridges, hearts have to be inspected and maintained to successfully withstand the load of life. 

Hearts crack when overloaded with relentless stress. Unfortunate circumstances not dealt with can create dark holes that needed to be filled immediately. Our very foundation of faith can erode when it is not constantly reinforced with the Word of God. The longer we ignore negative thoughts, emotions, and circumstances the deeper they dive and embed themselves into our souls.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please know you’re not alone. Others have been where you are and lived to tell about it. They’ve confronted the scary catfish in their lives, had their dead souls revived, and popped back up to the surface rejoicing. 

Dive deep into God’s word for comfort and instruction. Spend time every morning just resting in the presence of Jesus. Read. Pray. Worship. Imagine Jesus smiling at you throughout the day. When you’re about to lose control, hear Him saying, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this!” Then, trust Him. 

Resist being prideful, and ask for help. God placed people in your life for just such an occasion. Don’t be afraid to share your heart with those you trust.

Above all, be patient in the process. Repairs that last take time. As you remove the clutter, you will begin to see what God sees when He looks at you. If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard His truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus!” (Ephesians 4:21, TPT) The longer you look at Him, the more you look like Him. 

Lord, Your loving care overwhelms us with gratitude. Help us to not fear our own emotions. Help us use them to recalibrate the way we think so we can better utilize the Spirit power within us. Open our eyes to the things we must surrender in order to fully trust You. Help us reject being swallowed up by fear so we can become a bridge between the fearful and You. Thank you for Your grace that brought us from death to life. It’s not for our glory, Lord, but all for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen! 

Posted in
a poster saying “CATFISH AND DEAD BODIES”

My God Story – Ella Van Deusen

By Donna Jackson | June 21, 2022 |

I’ve waited weeks now to introduce you to my sweet friend Ella Van Deusen! We first met when I began to serve the elementary aged children in our church. At the age of ten, Ella’s understanding of God and His Word made leading her small group a huge blessing. I’ve watched her grow into an…

One of the Good Ones

By Donna Jackson | June 14, 2022 |

You may call me shameless, and that’s okay.  However, I have someone who deserves a pat on the back. Some royal treatment. A great big “attaboy”. I’m sure you have a “someone” in your life who deserves the same. Even the apostle Paul told the Romans they should give honor to those to whom it is…

Weary and Discouraged

By Donna Jackson | June 7, 2022

As the iconic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” opens, we meet George Bailey, a banker who soon finds himself trapped under a boulder of challenging circumstances. Even though he has a wife, children, extended family, and friends who love him and would gladly help, he still feels trapped. At his lowest point, he feels like…

Your Story

By Donna Jackson | May 17, 2022

Have you ever wondered how your life’s story would read if it were part of the Bible? Would it be complicated or comical? Melodramatic or monotonous? Apathetic or adventurous? Heartbreaking or heroic? I wonder what Moses thought of the whole Exodus story. His exploits were definitely legendary – the stuff blockbusters are made of –…

I Don’t Want To

By Donna Jackson | May 10, 2022

For several years, our small tribe of women met for Bible study with female inmates in our local jail. They shared their stories of abuse, drugs, tragedy, and great sorrow. We did our best to point them to Jesus, the only One who could heal their hurt and help them find lasting peace. Since we…

No Time to Play Games

By Donna Jackson | May 3, 2022

Last Monday rubbed my patience about as raw as sushi. And I hate sushi. Everything I tried to do went sideways. In my mind, I imagined flinging my computer across the room so it would feel the same amount of grief it had caused me. Every click of the cursor apparently filled the hard drive…

A Life That Matters

By Donna Jackson | April 19, 2022

The motley tribe of seven disciples sat quietly beside the sea trying to understand the most recent swirl of events. Their time spent as Jesus’ close companions had given them direction and a purpose. But now, everything was changing so quickly. Their teacher, friend, and Messiah had been tortured, humiliated, and killed by Roman soldiers.…

You May Argue, But …

By Donna Jackson | April 12, 2022

Whenever my brain waves begin to lay flat and my mind becomes exhausted from a day of writing, I grab a glass of tea and the TV remote. I depend on Joanna Gaines and Giada DeLaurnetiis to give my mind a break. They offer the inspiration I need to fill a skillet or two for…

What Do You Want for the Children in Your Life?

By Donna Jackson | April 10, 2022

What do you want for the children in your life? That was the question I posed this week to a room full of courageous ladies in drug rehab. Answers flew back: “Happiness”, “Peace”, “Strength”, “A relationship with God”. In a previous Bible study, they had asked for a message on parenting. My wheels immediately began…

Why Travel Perfection Road?

By Donna Jackson | April 5, 2022

On the outside my grandmother Josephine looked like any other grandmother. She wore glasses, gray hair, and her share of wrinkles and spots. But on the inside pumped the heart of a playful little girl. We cut paper dolls out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog, sang at her piano, and turned brand-new pointed Crayola…