Today we welcome author Felicia Ferguson to Guest Writer Week at Breath on Paper.
The first time I heard the story behind the hymn by Horatio G. Spafford I was awestruck. Here was a man who had lost almost everything, and yet as he stood on a ship at the exact place where his daughters had drowned he claimed–in effect—that he was fine. And he meant it. Wow. His faith, solid and sure, held fast against what had to be a torrent of emotional upheaval, is mind boggling.
But Jesus is just that: the calm in the storm, the strong tower in which to hide from one’s enemies, the surety that in the midst of the atrocities of life, He has it all figured out. And one day, I would discover that for myself.
When I first heard Bethel Music’s version of this hymn, I was wrecked to my core. Reminded that my gaze should be first and foremost fixed on Jesus, it was the soundtrack to a vision I experienced months later. I saw myself in a dinghy, tied to a wharf. As I watched the knot come loose and the boat began to float away, I heard the words,
“So let go my soul and trust in Him.
The waves and wind still know His name.”
I looked around the boat. There were no oars for me to use. No sail to pull this way or that so I could direct my path. I was fully dependent upon Jesus to guide me. So without conscious thought or deliberation, I did as the singer instructed: I let go. I let go of my doubt. I let go of my heartache. I let go of my disappointment. I simply let go. As the dinghy drifted along, I saw I was approaching rough waters. They drew my little boat like a beacon. But I wasn’t alarmed. There was only a curious peace. I knew that I would be safe, that Jesus would be my protection and guide.
And let me tell you, my reality at that point was completely the opposite. I struggled with faith and especially believing that God would protect me and had good plans for me. I was in the midst of nine months of intensive therapy for childhood verbal and emotional abuse and the last thing I did was trust God. For anything.
But I continued to sail along in the vision, feeling the push of the waves against the hull with increasing intensity. They tossed. They even spilled over the edge. Yet in spite of it all, my peace was curiously unshaken. It had somehow settled in my spirit that God was trustworthy.
In that moment, I realized I was really struggling to make a choice. Like Jacob, I was wrestling with God in an effort to bend Him to my will rather than relenting to His. And when that tether had let loose and I agreed to let go, I chose to believe that God was for me. That He had good plans for me. That what had happened in my childhood wasn’t according to His plan, but that He would use it. And even though I still had months left in my journey of emotional healing and much more trauma to work through, I found myself at peace with Him. I accepted that He would get me through to the other side,
“that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13b)
It is well with my soul. That hymn comforts, humbles, teaches, and promises. It comforts with the remembrance of His past faithfulness. It humbles with the reality that I can’t achieve the result needed in my own strength. It teaches that to wait on Him is not a vain effort, but rather a stretching of my faith. And it promises that—no matter what happens—there is an assurance of a greater life at the end of this one.
I hold fast to those four truths now. And I boldly proclaim at the top of my lungs in fire and in favor, in feast and in famine, in wealth and in lack, “It is well with my soul!”
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Felicia Ferguson holds a masters’ degrees in healthcare administration and speech—language pathology. She has trained in SOZO and freedom prayer protocols and has worked in inner healing ministries. The debut novel in her Christian fiction series, The Paths We Walk, is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Check out www.feliciafergusonauthor.com or www.facebook.com/feliciafergusonauthor for more information and events. Felicia lives on Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A with her two French Bulldogs.