The Swamp

"The Swamp"
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This post was originally published on August 4th, 2015.

God has been working something in me for a long time. And I finally got to see the beginning of the end of a very long struggle through spiritual quagmire. What follows are my experiences with the swamp, both literal and figurative.

The Spiritual Backstory

For quite some time, my relationship with God suffered and, despite all my efforts to fix it, I drifted further and further away. Away from God, away from Truth, and away from what I knew was right. As a result, I fell into temptation, and was starting to let certain things replace what I was missing in my spiritual life. Call it addiction (anything that replaces God), call it idolatry (worship of anything other than God), call it sin. It was all that. And it ate away at my soul and snuffing out my fire.


I couldn’t understand why when I tried to pray, to beg God for help, it seemed like I just talked to thin air. I would hit a wall. The heavens were silent as I despairingly tried in vain to get myself out of the swamp I was in. So slowly, but surely I began to blame God for my problems, blame Him for not listening, not answering my prayer, blame Him for not being there. As ridiculous as that sounds, I simply couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong. I tried everything! It couldn’t be me. Right?

Then God stepped in. And He did it in a way I never expected. While I watched a movie. Yep. A movie. And this movie was an Independent Christian Film done by this church, and it was all about respect. Respecting God, His Name and authority. It was a fairly good movie, but I didn’t think I could take anything away from it. Until…several nights later I was vainly attempting to go to sleep, when my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a flash of understanding. It was me!

I finally saw what I had done. Just like the main character in that movie, I was treating God with disrespect. Not only was I blaming Him for not listening, I was also addressing Him without the reverence He deserved as God of the universe.

When that sunk in, I started weeping. I got down on my knees and, for the first time in a long, long time, I spoke to God in an attitude of awe and respect and begged Him to forgive me for what I had done. That was the most wonderful thing in the world! To finally FEEL my prayer fly to heaven to God’s ears, to KNOW that He heard me, to really sense His presence. I was so overcome with the goodness of God in revealing that to me. It was the next day, Sunday, July 19th that I wrote this poem that I am going to share with you.


 I tremble as I step toward the place.
It used to mean loving comfort and grace.
But now I am frozen with shame and fear.
I have been so lost, do I dare draw near?

It all started out so very small
I was not paying attention at all.
The world whispered to me from the sidewalk.
Temptation won out, and I stopped to talk.

He lured me with the things that were “ok”.
But in time I had forgotten to pray.
Then my Bible began collecting dust,
When the world went from a want to a must.

The he said that I needed to be “free”.
Then showed me an evil no one should see.
I was waist deep in mud and vicious thorns,
Before I noticed that the “world” had horns.

By then, the devil just laughed at my plight:
Struggling against his traps with all my might.
I was so lost, and had wandered so far,
How could I get out of this thick, black tar?

By that time, my sin caused me no alarm.
I was so enamored with the world’s charm,
That my flesh had become a giant, tall.
I felt so weak I couldn’t fight back at all.

I kept going like this for quite a while,
As I felt more and more filthy and vile.
My prayers died deep in my chest from my shame.
I felt too wicked to say my Lord’s name.

I was drowning in the world, all alone.
While satan was throwing stone after stone.
I started trying to find my own way back,
But I was weakened after each attack.

I tried hard to find God in all of this,
But it felt like another hit and miss.
Now I know He was with me the whole time.
But I couldn’t see, cause my guilt made me blind.

After a long, hard journey I am here,
Covered in dirt and grime and shaking with fear.
My once white garments are now stained and torn.
I am so broken, exhausted and worn.

This place that I have finally come to,
Is shining brighter that things clean and new.
I am overwhelmed, and I feel so small,
By the glorious beauty of it all.

This place is the great palace of the King.
And I have come for pardon and cleansing.
I walk through the doors, exposed by the light.
I begin weeping when struck by pure white.

When I knelt before the King, my heart burned.
I finally said what I had long yearned.
“Father, I can do nothing on my own,
And I bring nothing before Your throne.

“Only You can save me from this dark road,
And take away this hard and heavy load.
Help me, Lord, I can’t do it anymore,
And I feel I’m losing this raging war.

“God, I am begging for Your forgiveness.
In and of myself I’ve no worthiness.
So I give You my one and only plea,
That the blood of Your Son was shed for me.”
--Amber Mason

And that’s as far as I got with my poem. Normally I end my poems on a triumphant note of redemption, forgiveness, and victory. But this time I couldn’t do it. Even though I had returned to communing with God in an attitude of reverence and I had begged His forgiveness, I still felt low, unforgiven, guilty, and still in turmoil. I couldn’t write any further because that was as far as my spiritual experience had gotten at that time…until the swamp. Actually, until land navigation in general.

The Physical Backstory

The Setup…

I really wasn’t supposed to be at there on July 21st and 22nd for our overnight day/night land navigation course, because I had a “no field training” profile. But God worked in a mysterious way and my company had me go out anyway.

I was really nervous and a little anxious since I hadn’t done land nav by myself since Basic Training 3 years ago. But I was also excited because doing it alone meant that it was just me and God. And that’s how I started; just communing with Him and being aware of His presence. To my surprise, I was doing really well. In fact, I ended up being like 20 meters away from my first point. I shot my azimuth to my second and set off. Because of that, I was pretty happy and just cruising…until the swamp.

My Fear…

I jerked to a complete stop at the edge of this seemingly endless mire, and stared in complete disbelief. They didn’t really make a point across a swamp? Like they didn’t actually expect me to slosh through that, right? I re-shot my azimuth to make sure I was on track. I was. Then I walked 30 meters in either direction to see if there was any way around it. There wasn’t. I was scared. Terrified actually. Like this was my worst nightmare. My greatest fear. I was afraid of getting sucked down into the mud and getting stuck. Or worse, drowning in it like quicksand.

I took three baby steps into it to test it out, but the second that greedy muck pulled viciously on my boot, I darted out of there. Then I wanted to quit. To give up and fail. To turn around and go back and say that I couldn’t cross the swamp. But I was doing SO good! I couldn’t quit now! I HAD to find that next point. There was no other way.

Having Faith…

Once that reality dug in, I sunk to my knees beside the miry pit and prayed. I begged God for protection and safety from strong grip of the mud, for the strength to make it across, and for courage to overcome my fear. Pleading for His help and mercy, and I faced the object of my terror, trying desperately to muster the resolve to take the first step.

I must have stood there for a good few minutes as waves of fear crashed over me, threatening to drown me before I even lifted my foot off solid ground. Then I remembered about doing hard things, about facing your fear, about how the hardest part of doing something is actually taking that first step. With that in mind, I took a deep breath and went for it with a “here we go, Lord.”

The mud gleefully sucked at my boots as if it had been saving all its power for me the entire day. I was up to my knees and fighting to get unstuck every inch of the way. Several times I lurched forward like I was falling, only to catch myself before I fell arms first in the mire. It seemed like an eternity as I struggled through the sinking muck.

And then, I was across! I was overcome with such joy! Such gladness! Such thankfulness! And so much satisfaction! I crashed to my knees on the other side, thanking and praising God. I had overcome my fear! And little was I to know that I would end up crossing that very swamp about 5 more times in the course of doing land nav that day.

The Parallels

What I realized after the swamp is that there are significant parallels between the poem and what happened in the real life swamp. The description in the poem is so shockingly similar to the actual incident, it is hard to believe that I wrote it a couple days before it happened! I came away from that experience with a new perspective of my spiritual struggles.

Land Navigation and the Bible

In land nav we are given a map, which shows us the way, and the compass points us in the right direction. Spiritually speaking, the Bible is the map and the Holy Spirit is the compass. And I finally understood something else about my relationship with God.

In my spiritual walk (land nav), the journey wasn’t supposed to be easy. The path might be difficult (like all the trees and underbrush and thorns and obstacles I had to go around at land nav). God never promised that we wouldn’t have to struggle through sin, and temptation, and addiction.

God’s Promise…

He promised a way of escape, a way through. He promised to be with me. In Isaiah 43:2, it says,

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned…”

God tells me not to fear, because He has redeemed me and called me by name. And just like I was going in the right direction, but still had to pass through a swamp, in my spiritual life there will be swamps that I must go through. And even though temptation and sin may suck me down like mire, God will give me the strength to fight. I may get stuck, it may seem too hard, or too hopeless, and I may be struggling for a while, but God is faithful and He will bring me through. And at the other side of the swamp I will rejoice, because I have conquered.

After every battle comes a victory, a new point (land nav point) in my spiritual life. And even when I get dirty and bruised from the world and sin, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me. And I keep on going till I reach the glories of heaven (the end point) and my trials are over.

The Conclusion

The Lie…

The most important truth that I gleaned out of all the parallels was this: previously I was self-condemning, downtrodden, and overwhelmed with shame even after I went before God to repent and ask His forgiveness. But I believed one lie. A lie that said that because I am a Christian that I shouldn’t be succumbing to temptation or struggling with sin, or get stuck in any form of idolatry or addiction (i.e. the swamp). I should be better than that. Stronger than that. I have a “perfect Christian” image to live up to.

The Truth…

But that is just not true. I am not perfect and I will never be. I am not strong, I am weak. I’m not “better than that”, I was born with a sinful heart. I am surrounded internally and externally by temptation and my carnal flesh desires the world.

BUT GOD. But God is perfect, He is stronger, His blood will never lose its power. The truth is that the devil attacks those he deems a threat. Which means that when you are walking the path of righteousness there will be thorns, brush, rocks, and swamps. But God’s grace is more than enough to conquer. And you are no longer struggling to be free, you are free to struggle, because God has already set you free.

I should not put a burden on myself, an impossible burden, to never fall, never struggle, never fail. Because God, in His grace, saved me from not only the burden of perfection (since He kept the law perfectly for me), He also saved me from the consequences of imperfection and took the punishment on Himself.

Instead, Jesus gently calls to me and tells me, “Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.”

I can finish the poem now. I know I am forgiven and my burden is gone. Now I am free to carry my cross and follow, in the grace of God.

To read read part two of “The Swamp”, click here.

For more articles on the topic of faith go to my page at

Please visit for more content on God’s marvelous grace and faithfulness.

About Post Author

Amber Goodrich

I am a sojourner and adventurer through life, with plenty of inspiring thoughts to share! My journey has taken me through the United States Army as a Medic, transitioned me to the National Guard. On the civilian side of the ride, I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, wife and mother. Most recently I have started a new chapter as a budding freelance writer with the goal of expanding my horizons to write short stories and books. I look forward to traversing this path and seeing what it has in store!
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1 Timothy 6:18

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