Solid Ground

I need solid ground beneath my feet and always have.

I shy away from water—fear it, actually—for many reasons. My memories include standing in a tidal pool at the beach when I was six, feeling safe in the calm, shallow water until I looked down and saw several huge crabs, one only inches from my foot. Then there was the time at a church camp on the beach, when I dog-paddled out too far and would likely have drowned had my friend’s younger brother not towed me back to shore. I took swim lessons, but twice failed to graduate from the class. The movie “Jaws” was the final straw. I can’t swim and I refuse to enter water that contains creatures that pinch or bite.

The ocean is a beautiful sight and my husband, a scuba diver from way back, loves it, so we go to the beach at least once a year. I sit and watch George swim, or I walk along the edge of the water, where I find walking in sand to be nearly as challenging as trying to swim.

I step and I sink. I step and I sink again, all the while getting grit in my shoes. I have to work extra hard to push off with my back foot because it’s slipping and sinking with no solid surface from which to work. My father would have referred to it as “getting purchase.” I’ve never before used that phrase but for once in my life, it seems apt. I found this definition: the amount of hold one has from an individual foothold; leverage ( and When walking in sand, I have no purchase. It requires excessive effort and strains ankles, calves and thigh muscles, making one step feel like ten. It’s impossible to get purchase because there’s nothing solid at the beach, neither water nor sand.

Take me to the mountains and I’m happy. No matter how steep and rocky the trail, the sturdy surface makes me feel secure and at home. As I hike and “get purchase,” I can’t help but recall the words to an old hymn: On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

I’m thankful for mountains, where God’s solid ground gives me a better picture of the surety, the purchase, I have in Him. He did, after all, purchase me with His blood. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

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