TD Jakes - Don't Drown in Shallow Water
Touch your neighbor and say, "Don't drown in shallow water". It seems a ridiculous notion that you could drown in shallow water, especially after you have survived the deep. It seems strange that you could drown in something that you could handle. It seems strange that you could drown in something that you could master. But the toughest times of life are not in the beginning of the struggle, because the beginning of the struggle catches you fresh. You're vibrant, you're cocked for it, you're dangerous, but it is when you are closest to the shore that you are the most vulnerable to collapsing. It seemed odd to me that statistics say that most accidents occur two miles from the house. It seems like if you were gonna crash, you could have crashed 25 miles, or 15 miles, or ten miles from the house, but sometimes when you are the closest to the shore, things become the most difficult.
In my text this morning, we are following the Apostle Paul on a journey for the Lord. There are some concepts, I just pulled a few life lessons that I wanna share with you this morning that will keep you from drowning in shallow water. Touch your neighbor and say, "Are you listening this morning"?
Number one, and you might wanna jot these down, don't take the presence of the storm to indicate the absence of God. Don't take the presence of the storm to indicate the absence of God. Sometimes when you enter into a storm, and there are all kinds of storms, health storms, physical storms, financial storms, emotional storms, there are all kinds of storms. I'm not talking about the storms that rain down water, and the lightening, and the thunder, and all of that, I'm talking about storms that other people can't see. Undetectable storms, storms that make people think you haven't been through anything because you get up out the bed every morning, and you put your hair up, and put your makeup on, and they don't know you put your smile on just like you did your makeup, and walked in smiling because you are going through a secret storm.
Has anybody ever gone through a secret storm? See, when you're going through a visible storm, somebody will hand you an umbrella, or a raft, or some help, or some assistance, because they are aware of your suffering, but when you're going through a secret storm, there is no comfort there because nobody knows that you're dealing with a secret storm. They're jealous of the car you're driving, not knowing that it's two payments behind. They're envious of the position that you were promoted to, not knowing that now that you're promoted into that position, you can't even rest at night. You can't even sleep at night. You've got so much pressure and so much responsibility on you, and, all of a sudden, you're in a storm and nobody even knows it.
And when we get in a storm, we have a tendency to wonder, "Where is God"? Job said, "I looked for him. He was there a minute ago, but now I can't find him. I looked on the right side and I couldn't find him. I looked on the left side and I perceived him not. Where is God in the storm"? Because we buy into this notion that if God was with us, we would have no storm; that if God were really with us, we would be happy; that if God were really with us, everything would go smoothly; that if God were really on our side, we would have no family problems. If God were really with us, our bills would be paid. How could God be with us and us be in foreclosure? How could God be with us and we have cancer? How?
Job said, "I can't figure it out. How could my kid die, and God be with me? How could my house be on fire and God be with me? I looked for him. I looked for him, I didn't see him. I didn't see him. I looked on the right, I didn't see him. I looked behind me, I didn't... you said you had my back. I didn't see him. I looked in front of me, I thought he'd lead the way. I didn't see him". But you cannot see in a storm. That's why he told you to walk by faith and not by sight. You cannot see in a storm. Don't look for God to be sensual in your storm. He will not appeal to your senses. Your senses add to your comfort. God will not make you comfortable in your storm, but just because you are in the presence of the storm, the storm does not negate the presence of God, nor does it indicate the absence of God. In fact, if you really want to see God do his best work, get in trouble.
I know you think God does his best work when you're dancing in the church, and you're clapping, and you're raising your hands, and all of that stuff. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no, no. I know that God visits your praise. The Bible said he inhabits the praises of Israel. I understand that God visits your praise, but if you want to know where God lives, he lives in trouble. The Bible said he is a very present help in the time of trouble. If you're looking for God, he's in the storm. He may not be saying anything, Peter, you may find him asleep on the boat in the bottom of the ship, but don't think that he jumped off the boat because you were in a storm. He is with you in the storm. He promised, he promised to be with you.
I'm gonna tell you something about the promises of God. Any time God promises you something, get ready for trouble. I know you haven't heard it taught that way, but I'm gonna rock your world this morning. Any time God promises you something, get ready for trouble. I never promise the obvious. I never promise the obvious. I never promise my wife, "I promise you I'll be a black man". You'll get it when you get home. "I promise you I'll remain a male". Never promise that. You never promise the obvious. You give a promise when you know that something is going to come to make you doubt. If I write Michael a check, the check is a promise. He cannot spend it, but it is a promise that the money is behind it. Whenever God promises you something, he says you may not have it in your sensual realm right now, but I promise you. Good God, did he promise you anything?
I heard him myself. I heard him myself. I heard him when he said he promised me when you pass through the water, I'll be with you. He wouldn't have said that if his presence was apparent. Because you never promise the obvious. He said, "But when you pass through the water, you got my word on it. I am in there with you. You may not see me, you may not feel me, you may not sense me, but I tell you what, all the while you're stroking in the water, understand you are not stroking by yourself". Don't be so aware of the storm that you lose awareness of the God in the storm. I wonder if Peter wouldn't have done better steering the ship from the bottom of the boat. Instead of steering in the sensual realm, where the storm lives, the real guide was in the bottom of the boat.
And are you steering your life based on what you see, or are you steering your life based on you believe? I don't know why God had me on this, this morning, but I suspect that somebody in this church is in a storm. You don't steer through the storm based on the conditions of the storm, you steer through the storm based on the solidarity of your faith and understand that this too shall pass. Wait, wait, wait, wait, let's settle this right off the top. Let's fix the end from the beginning. Before the first lightning flashes, before the thunder rolls, before I even get wet, let's settle one thing right now. When we see the dark clouds coming, and we feel the moisture in the air, let's settle the end from the beginning. I am coming out of this.
They didn't hear what I said, baby. I am coming out of this. I am coming out of this. Tell your neighbor, "I am coming out of this". I don't have no details, but I am coming out of this. I don't know where the money's coming from, but I am coming out of this. I don't know whether it'll be divine healing or medicine, but I am coming out of this. I don't know whether they're gonna lay hands on me, or I'm gonna have to do therapy, but I am... Oh, my God, I wish I had some faith in this room. I wish I had some faith in this room. You ought to make a declaration right now that the devil can hear. "I am coming out of this".
Okay, the storm has started. The beginning has occurred. I don't know what all I'm gonna have to go through to get to the end of it, but let's set a pin on the end of it and say, "I shall come forth as pure gold". I may have to crawl, I may have to cry, I may have to wait, I may have to suffer, I may have to hold my peace, but when everything is said and done, I will come out of this. How do you know you're coming out? Because he's with me. He's with me. He's with me. He is with me in the storm. This storm may blow a lot of things away from me, but it will not blow him away from me. Let's settle on that. He is with me in the storm. I don't know whether you're with me, I don't know whether you're with me, I don't know whether you're with me, I don't know whether you're with me, but let's settle this much right now, I know I got at least one passenger. The Lord is with me in the storm. Storm, if you fight me, you gotta fight him, because the Lord is with me in the...
I was reading an interesting article about elderly people, and it said elderly people have been proven, statistically, to live longer if they have anything living in the house, anything living in the house. I mean, anything, even if y'all don't like each other. You got somebody to argue with. You got somebody to roll your eyes at. You live longer, isn't that crazy? Yeah, that blew my mind. Then they said it doesn't have to be a person. They said if you got a cat, or a dog, or a goldfish to feed, or something to worry about, or something to take care of, or something to do. If you got anything living with you, you live longer. But if you don't have anybody, and you don't have a cat, and you don't have a dog, if a cat's and a dog's presence...
They didn't hear: if a cat's or a dog's presence can increase the years of your life, how much more would the presence of God increase the years of your life when you find out I'm not living by myself? I'm not in this by myself. I'm not driving to work by myself. I'm not paying these bills by myself. I'm not taking this medicine by myself. I'm not raising this child by myself. I'm not holding this house together by myself. Don't allow the presence of the storm to make you doubt the presence of God. Everybody in this room that knows that the Lord is with you, stand up and brag about it right now.
Yeah, yes, yes, yes, he's with me. The Lord is with me. I hope he's with you, but I know he's with me. The Lord is with me. He's been with me a long time. He's been with me for 56 years. All of my life, the Lord has been... can I get a witness in here right now? Sit down, I'm just talking to you. Now, my heart went out to Paul. He's already been through a lot, and the Lord is using the ship to get him into his destiny. And then, the thing he was counting on, riding on, protected by, started coming apart. What do you do when what God gave you to ride in starts coming apart? Do you give up hope? Do you throw up your hands? Do you walk away?
I want to suggest to you that God did not promise the ship, he promise you. He didn't promise the ship that he was gonna be with the boat. He said, "I'm gonna be with you". So, number two is don't preserve the temporary. I don't want you to define success or to ask God to preserve the temporary. Don't ask God to preserve the temporary. See, this is good. See, God promised to get you there, but he didn't say how. God promised to bring you through, but he didn't say through whom. And if you're not careful, you alpha males, you controlling sisters, you will put all your energy into preserving the boat, not understanding that success is not defined by preserving the temporary. And you'll put all of your work into preserving something that God only gave you for a season.
Oh, y'all don't hear what I'm saying. Every blessing is not meant to last the journey. God brings some people in your life to get you from point A to point B. Oh, God, help me this morning. And if you're not careful, you will get to point B, and instead of going to point C, you'll stop and try to preserve what you had, not understanding that God's got something else to carry you the rest of the way. I'm saying that just because the ship comes apart, doesn't mean you have to come apart.
Can you imagine being on the boat, bound and tied, stressed and weary? The thing you was counting on to get you to the other side, the job you thought you'd retire with, to get you to the other side, the house you thought you'd have the rest of your life, to get you to the other side, and the storm got it. How many of you have lost some stuff in the storm, lost some friends in the storm, lost some people in the storm, lost some relationships in the storm? And it mad you feel like a failure, but you're not a failure, it was a temporary blessing. If it was meant to stay, it couldn't leave. In fact, the destruction of the boat could be an announcement that you have arrived at your destination.
The boat did not retain its original form. The boat did not retain its original form. And I'm gonna zero in, I'm gonna put a arrow right in the heart of many of your problems. You're in love with what you had. I'mma try on them: You're in love with what you had. And you think that if your life does not retain the shape that you started with, you don't think that it can get you where you're going. See, the boat didn't cease to exist. It just took on another form. It wasn't as comfortable, it wasn't as glorious, but the Bible said even when life takes on another form and it's all broken into a piece, grab a piece of what you got left and hold on. And the Bible says some on boards and some on broken pieces made it safely to the other side.
Just 'cause things are broken in your life doesn't mean you can't survive. I'm gonna try it on y'all over here. Just 'cause things are broken in your life doesn't mean you can't survive. Stop trying to glue the boat back together. It may not ever be like it was but grab whatever it is and hold on to it 'til you get where you're trying to go. What I'm trying to tell you is you can't be saved by what it was. You can only be saved by what it is. If Paul and the prisoners had insisted that the only way they could float was on a whole boat, they would have died in the water. But they took what it is and not what it was and said, "It's not what it used to be but it's still enough for me to make it on in".
Look at your neighbor and say, "I'm gonna make it on in off of what I got left". I can't make it off of what I lost. I can't make it off of what I used to have. I can't make it off of what you used to be. I can't make it off of what we used to do. I cannot be who I was yesterday. I can only take what I got left. If I'd have needed more boat, he'd have gave me more boat. He didn't promise to save my boat, he promised to save me.
I have learned that every blessing doesn't come to stay. Every relationship wasn't meant to last. Every friend is not gonna be a lifelong friend. God will send people in your life for a season 'cause you needed that at that time in your life. And if they walk away don't stand there at the tomb of what used to be and cry over what was 'cause if you'd have needed them for the future, they would have stay. All that left me couldn't stay and all that stayed couldn't leave. To God be the glory for the things he has done. I feel like having some church in here.
Touch three people and tell 'em, "I'm gonna be all right". I'm gonna be all right. I'm gonna be all right. I'm gonna be all right. Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the wind blow. I'm gonna be all right. I don't have to have everything but if I got a piece of faith, if I got a piece of love, if I got a piece of strength, if I got a piece of bread, I may not have no butter, I may not have no jelly, it may be day-old bread, but if I got a little piece, I'm gonna make it off of what I got left.
I don't know who I'm preaching to, but I'm talking to somebody. Touch three people and tell 'em, "I got a piece". I got a piece. I got a piece. I got a little piece. I got a little piece of faith. I don't have a whole lot of faith. I got a little piece of faith. It's not that big, it's just the size of a grain of mustard seed. But I will move that mountain with this little bit of faith. Take what you got left and keep on riding the wave. Somebody take a minute and give God a praise right now.
So sit down, I'm just talking to you. So the brother in "The Life of Pi," he says, "I survived the storm. I survived the pestilence. I survived almost starving to death. I survived the tiger. I survived almost losing my mind". He said, "And when I finally got there," he said, "I held on to the boat. I was afraid that I would get that close to deliverance and die in shallow water". What is the thing that makes us fearful in safe places? Fearful in safe places. Why is he clutching on to the boat in 2 feet of water? What do you do when your senses are lying to you? When you live in a realm of thinking that you're going to crash but you're not, thinking that you can't make it but you can, thinking that you're in danger but you're safe. I'm talking about exhausted emotions.
Number three, don't be moved by exhausted emotions. See, I learned that when you get tired, you can't trust how you feel. I'm preaching right to somebody. I don't know who it is. When your emotions are exhausted, they will send you false signals. They'll make you think you're in danger when you're not. They'll make you think you can't trust who you can. They'll make you think people hate you who love you. They'll make you lash out at people who are really trying to help you because you have exhausted emotions. When you get tired, your perception of the situation is altered. When you get tired, you'll be scared when you're safe. When you get tired, you'll be holding on to what's familiar and missing the fact that you can hold on to the promise before you. When you get tired, you make dumb decisions because you have exhausted emotions.
A psychiatrist friend of mine described it this way. He said, "When you are anxious or exhausted, it's like flying a plane but you can't trust the dials". In other words, you'll feel like you're going to crash even when you're safe. Don't be moved by exhausted emotions. Exhausted emotions make you paranoid. Exhausted emotions make you fearful. Exhausted emotions take the pleasure out of surviving away. You know, I imagine when Paul was on the ship and the ship started coming apart, and they were out there in the water, he would have thought, "Oh, if I can get to the shore I'm gonna dance. When I get to the shore I'm gonna shout the victory. If I make it out of this I'm gonna give God the praise. If I finally finish this, I'm gonna dance all over this place".
If we ever get this house paid for, we're gonna shout the victory. If we ever get these kids raised, we're just gonna dance and shout. If I ever get this bill paid off, I'm gonna shout the victory. If you ever get over this cancer, we're gonna go out and celebrate. If we survive this leukemia, we're gonna run up and down the aisle. But do you not know that statistics say that most marriages who have gone through catastrophic incidents fall apart after they survived it? Because they're tired. It's called compassion fatigue. Compassion fatigue. I gave out, I wore out. We made it but I was exhausted. Wore my party out of me. Wore the smile off my face. Wore the step out of my walk. What does that mean? I could succeed, I could survive, and not feel successful. What happens when you get there and it doesn't feel like what you thought "there" would feel like?
If you'd have told the little girl in you that you would end up at the place in life that you'd ended up now, living in the house you're living in, accomplished as much as you'd accomplished, she'd have thought, "Oh, if I get that far, oh, that's gonna be wonderful". So, why aren't you happy? Couldn't imagine owning your own car and you got one. Why aren't you happy? Couldn't imagine getting your own house, can't imagine it but you got one. Why aren't you happy? You couldn't imagine having a husband or wife. You got one. Why aren't you happy? You prayed to have a child, cried 'cause you couldn't have one. Then got one. Why aren't you happy?
Oh, no shouting now. Oh, it got kind of quiet now. Why doesn't Paul dance? He could have died in the storm. He could have gone down with the ship. He could have drowned in the water. He makes it to Melita and collapses on the shore. What do you do when survival does not feel successful? When the mission completed does not make you wanna celebrate? Is it that you underestimated how much it would cost you to get where you are? Is it that you have denied yourself the right to have survived and still be exhausted? There is nothing wrong with being tired.
He says, "I was afraid to let go of the boat for fear that I would drown in 2 feet of water". You have survived being in 1000 feet of water. You swam through 500 feet of water. You made it through water that if you hadn't have been tough, you would have drowned in long time ago. You made it through times that tried everything in you that could be tried and you made it safely to the other side and now, at a moment of celebration, you are standing here still fearful, afraid you're going to die in 2 feet of water.
Don't you know you can't trust how you feel? When you're tired, your feelings are off, your emotions are crazy, you get angry about stuff that's not important, you snap at people who are trying to be nice to you. When you are tired, you cannot live uppon your own counsel. If you listen at your own counsel, you will give up in 2 feet of water. And the Lord told me to warn you: keep on flying but don't read the dial. Keep on stroking even when you feel like I'm scared to death. You may be scared to death but you're closer now than you've ever been in your life. I said you're closer now than you've ever been in your life. It doesn't feel like what you think it would feel like.
I talked to a young man, he said, "Oh", he said, "I can't imagine what it would be like to be you". I said, "Is that what you wanna be"? He said, "Oh yeah". He said, "Oh yeah, if I could just be you". He said, "That's absolutely amazing". He said, "I'm not trying to wish anything bad on you," he said, "but I'd just love to be you". He said, "It'd just be wonderful. It'd just be marvelous. It'd just be spectacular". Are you sure? Are you sure? I mean, from the outside, you've got an opinion, but are you sure?
See, the problem with the church is we have bought into these mystical magical things where people come up and lay hands on you and give you a double portion of their spirit and they confer blessings on you and they confer the anointing on you. Let me tell you something. Most of that is garbage. You wanna get my anointing? Suffer like I suffered. Cry like I cried. Do without like I did without. Crawl with dirt in your fingernails. By time you get through bleating and crying and suffering and you finally get there, it's not gon' feel like what you thought it would feel like because along the journey, it cost you so much to get there that success doesn't feel successful. Survival doesn't make you wanna celebrate. Paul made it to the shore but he was almost dead.
Who am I preaching to? You got all kind of people who wish they could be you. Say, "If I could only have his situation. Oh, you got your own law practice. Oh, you got your degree. Oh, you married a man with a degree". People have all kind of ideas of what it feels like to be you, but they don't know that you're out of breath and about to pass out and at your wit's end and scared to death and at the end of your rope. But touch three people and say, "Hold on. Hold on. Hold on".
You didn't come through everything you've been through to die in 2 feet of water. You didn't survive the storm and the pestilence to get here and let this little problem get you down. The devil is a liar. The devil is a liar. You don't even have to be able to swim to survive in 2 feet of water. All you gotta do is be able to stand up and if you can stand up, you can survive in shallow water.
Slap your neighbor and say, "Don't drown in shallow water". Stand up. Stand up in the water. Having done all to stand. If you can't swim, stand up. If you can't stand up, sit up. If you sit up, you can get out of the water. If you can't sit up, look up, look up. You've come too far to drown in shallow water. Give God a praise! Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Tell your neighbor, "Neighbor, I don't care what it looks like, I don't care how bad it is, I don't care how you feel about it, don't drown, don't drown in shallow water". That thing is too small to hold you down. It's too small to make you quit. It's too small to make you die. The Lord told me to tell you, "Don't drown in shallow water". Give Him a praise right now! Yes, yes, run over and slap somebody and tell 'em, "I will not drown". I will not drown. I may cry but I will not drown. I may crawl but I will not drown. I may get depressed but I will not drown. The devil is a liar. If I was gonna drown, I could have drowned way back there. I didn't come this far to drown in shallow water. Give him a praise. Give him a praise. Give him a praise. Praise him with your hands wet. Praise him with your butt tired.
Dr. James, there's one other little point. I have a very active imagination and sometimes it works for me, sometimes it works against me. And in my mind, I thought that when Paul got to Melita that he got up and built a fire. I just imagined in my mind that once he survived and he was cold and he was wet and he was tired, I imagined in my mind that he got him some wood and built him a fire. But when I read it over again, I found out something, that when Paul made it to Melita he did not build his own fire.
When you survive a series of storms, life is a storm, everything you touch is a storm, it'll cost you something to go through anything you gotta go through, but when you finally get there, don't build your own fire. The Bible says, hallelujah, not only did Paul not build the fire, none of the people who were with him built the fire because when you're tired and I'm tired, neither one of us have the strength to build the fire, but God sent somebody who hadn't been through what he'd been through to build the first fire. And the Lord told me to tell you to hang around somebody that's got dry wood, hang around somebody that loves you enough to build you a fire. Hang around somebody that can take care of you when you're exhausted. You don't have to build your own fire. Ha-hey! Ask your neighbor, "You got any wood"?