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! 

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a poster saying “CATFISH AND DEAD BODIES”

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