We hoisted her back on the boat and pulled up the anchor. Jay squeezed her wound together.
“Am I going to die?” Bella wailed. “I’m scared Momma.” I assured her she would not die, just as I had last summer, when she laid in a hospital bed with swollen organs from MISC.
The boat flew over the waters to a neighboring island that had the only clinic around.
“I wish it were all a dream, Mommy,” Bella cried. “If only this was a dream.”
I wished it too.
But Jesus was on the boat. He was in this storm.
This summer, we had stayed at a resort on a lesser known, more remote Bahamian island. I use the term “resort” loosely. It was the type of place with wavering electricity and an undependable back-up generator, where you rushed to the village market when the food barge came in, and the furnishings reminded you of an old, worn beach house; but the island offered a vacant beach, quiet walks scouring for conk shells, and beautiful clear waters where one could marvel over the creativity of God.
Just what we wanted.
Traditionally, our summer vacations include entertaining our three grown boys, and our seventeen-year-old niece, which forces our daughter, Bella, to participate in adventures most seven-year-olds aren’t ready for. That morning, as we climbed aboard a boat to check off some of our bucket list items, we had no idea of the horrifying event ahead.
But Jesus was on the boat. He was in the storm.
The first stop was to swim with the sharks. While the captain’s mate poured fish guts into the water, they darted around us biting into the remnants. Reef, Lemon, Black Tip, and Sand Sharks all swirled under our feet. Our daughter, Bella, squirmed uncomfortably, wrapping her arms and legs around her Daddy while we peered through our goggles at them.
The next stop in the shallows the sting rays like black Labradors, engulfed us before wrapping their wings around our chests as we squatted in the three-foot water, feeding them.
After that, we found a pod of dolphin hunting for fish and jumped in with them. We watched under the water, amazed at how they worked as a team hunting the school.
Our last stop, we anchored at “No Name Cay,” to swim with the hogs. We fed the hogs bread along the beach. After a few minutes, I let down my guard—they were pigs after all. Bella left my side and meandered to the edge of the water. I saw the largest male turn and single her out. He started towards her, and she extended her arm inviting him in. For a moment, I glanced away and then looked back just in time to see it charge. It thrust its head into her outer thigh and jerked before running away, leaving my daughter screaming and bleeding with a huge chunk missing from her thigh. It happened so fast. It took a few seconds to realize the severity.
For a month prior, the message of Jesus on the boat in the storm kept coming back to me. I’d heard it preached at Palm Beach Atlantic on Parent’s Day. The next morning, it had appeared in my devotional. Then, Ms. Bonnie, one of our writers, mentioned it in her blog.
Over and over, in my quiet time, I prayed over it. Jesus is in the boat. A great storm arises. Jesus calms the storm. “Where is your faith?” He asks the disciples. Mark 4:35-41.
The following week, Liz Hammond and I were scheduled to batch tape a list of podcasts, and of course, I assumed we should discuss the passage. We taped it. You can find the link to that podcast here.
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Mark 4:39-40 (ESV)
The Benefit of Abiding:
Now back on the boat in July and I’m assuring our daughter she won’t die. Coincidence? Probably not. I’ve found that one of the benefits of abiding in Christ is that sometimes God gives us a heads up of what’s coming around the bend. He wanted me to know, a storm is ahead, I am aware of it, and I’ll be on the boat with you.
God’s amazing that way, isn’t He?
I tend to hold these stories to my chest, waiting on God to reveal what He wants me to write about it, and one day it became clear.
In our culture, hogs are everywhere.
Too often we as God’s people try to make pets out of them. How many things that are unclean do we slap lipstick on and apply a sweet name to? There have been devices trickling into the church as if they’ve been scrubbed cleaned without believers questioning what is the history of this practice? Who created this? What was it used for? Am I reflecting God’s glory while utilizing this? Does this practice keep me from allowing God to lead me in this area? Does it conflict with scripture?
The Unclean Things Invited into the Church:
Laws of attraction are now called God’s promise of prosperity.
The Downward Dog is called Stretching.
We utilize eastern meditation and call it mental health practices.
Instead of relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a New Age personality test is the current tool needed to help lead different personalities to the Lord, heal marriages, and help us deal with other people. (What’s your number?)
Utilizing vision boards as self-manifestation tools to achieve our heart’s desires.
We’re offered “feelings” based theology as a movement of God. (See that? I got goosebumps.)
Relational sins are permitted if covered under the umbrella of “love.”
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)
The Pet Names of Sin:
Before we all begin patting ourselves on the backs for not participating in the above practices or utilizing their tools, we must examine if we’ve been guilty of the following. I know I have.
Greed is renamed ambition
Pride is renamed confidence
Coveting becomes admiring.
Lies are called misunderstandings.
Selfishness is called self-preservation.
Our opinions and assumptions have become “my truth.”
Love of self has become self-care.
I’ve learned something about hogs. Underneath the red pucker and cutesy name they’re still filthy hogs; if you don’t put them down they’ll gore you just when you trust them. When you plunge into a relationship with a wild boar, it can cause destructive waves for those closest to you as well.
What hogs have we made pets of?
It would go well for us to put a bullet in them, or better yet, flee from them all together.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ.”
Colossians 2:8 (ESV)
Sisters, if we don’t stop welcoming unclean things into our lives, we’ll become too busy being tossed about in this culture, versus being spiritually healthy enough to pitch the gospel lifeline into it.
Which position would you rather be in?
Don’t lose hope. God’s grace…only God can still those waves of destruction. He calms the sea with His Word. He holds the ultimate power in our lives.
The question now remains, is God truly in your boat?
Does God inhabit your heart?
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)
At the clinic, Bella received eight stiches in her thigh, and the nurse stated she’d stitched up three other victims the week before. Straight from the clinic we returned to that beach to have lunch at the restaurant there and insisted to the one in charge of the boar that they kill it before it hurts someone else. We were shocked to find smaller girls surrounding it. Jay walked over and warned all the parents up and down the beach of our experience. If Bella had been their height, she would have been gutted.
Once we identify a wild hog, it’s our job to warn others.
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)
We heard from several “hog” experts that a boar’s natural tendency is to gore or bite between the thighs not on the outside due to it being the location of a main artery which causes its prey to quickly bleed out. Praise Jesus, Bella escaped with only a large scar across her outer thigh, a case of ringworm, a bit of PTSD for other creatures in nature, and a great essay for what I did during my summer vacation.
She’s all healed now and showing off her scar as if she’d been in battle with a pirate.
It didn’t fare as well. But I heard it became the favorite menu item at the local’s barbecue.
Tammy Carter Adams is the founder of The Hallelujah House and cohost of the new The Hallelujah House podcast. A native of Virginia, Tammy now resides in Orlando, Florida with her husband and four children. Tammy’s passion is in teaching women to Abide in Jesus Christ. When she’s not teaching and creating content, Tammy enjoys spending time at her farmhouse in the sticks of Georgia.