Devotions for Lent: Out of Deep Waters

Drawing of the Drawdy Falls in SpringPsalm 18:16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

For a couple of summers I used to help out for a week at our Presbytery’s Outdoor Camp Site at John Knox. I was friends with the director at the time and he invited me to go canoeing for a week with the middle schoolers. We went all over East Tennessee and North Carolina trying out various rivers and rapids. It was a wonderful time and I came back fitter and leaner than I had been in years.

The next summer I went back to the camp to do the same thing, but this time my friend was unable to lead the group. I spent most of the week driving the minivan or transporting the canoes to predetermined locations. I did get to go canoeing a couple of times during which I almost drowned.

The group was headed down a fast flowing river and all of a sudden my canoe overturned. Both I and the other leader ended up beneath the canoe and struggled to reach the surface. I remember thinking for a brief second that this was it. Green reeds were flowing around me and I was being buffeted and bashed by the strong current. My greatest fear was getting a foot stuck under a rock, so I leaned back in the water and let myself float to the surface. Within seconds I was gasping for air and dragging myself and the canoe back to the river bank. The other leader was already there.

When the psalmist writes about God drawing him out of deep waters, he’s talking about a salvation experience. His life is full of trouble and his foes are all around him. His faith in God assures him, so that when the worst does come, he knows that the Lord’s presence will help him endure and overcome the crisis. He is completely confident that he will be delivered from death and rescued from despair.

We all go through times when circumstances threaten to engulf our lives and overwhelm our days. We feel as if we’re emotionally drowning and our anxieties make us feel totally insecure. That’s where faith plays a key role in overcoming our troubles and winning the struggle. For the psalmist, it was the presence of the Lord that saved him; for us Christians it is the Spirit of Jesus who rescues us.

Prayer:                        Lord Jesus, You know everything about what we are going through today, this week, and at this time. We rely upon You to be our strength when we are weak, to be our Guide when we are lost, and to be our Savior when we are in trouble. Hear our prayers and heal our lives. In Your Holy Name, we ask. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is taken from John’s waterfall series and is called “Appalachian Spring.” You can view the rest of the series online at

About Stushie

I'm originally from Scotland and have been a Presbyterian pastor for over thirty years. I live in Knoxville, TN. I enjoy art as a means of therapy, but also as a creative way to strengthen my spiritual connection to God.
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