Summertime is pool time and for those of us with young children it is a time of mixed emotions. We are excited to see our babies and toddlers get their first experiences of the cool, crystal clear water and yet there is some level of trepidation as we know the myriad of ways that their first pool experience could go horribly wrong. Many of those ways are real, physical dangers to the child (e.g., swallowing too much pool water), and some of them are emotionally traumatic dangers (e.g, the seemingly near death experience of being splashed in the face with cold water). These experiences can make it nearly impossible for us to get our children to trust the great body of blissful relief from the sun that a swimming pool can be once we have conquered our fears.
At my most recent experience at the pool, my wife and I diligently lathered up our 2 year old with sunscreen, strapped on his Coast-Guard-approved floatation device and got into the pool before beckoning for him to come in with us. Since this is already near the end of June, our son has gotten used to this routine by now and willingly lets me gently set him in the water. However, this time, I was beckoning from a few feet back and challenging him to jump into the water. I assured him that I would catch him and that he could do it. I assured him that his life vest would help him to float to the top, too, if he did land in the water and I told him, that no matter what, I was going to be there.
In that moment, while my son was still standing on the ledge unsure of whether or not to jump, I encountered God. I knew that in many ways in my life, I was that little boy, standing on the edge of the pool not sure if I trusted my Father to catch me if I jumped. I pray often for the Lord to reveal to me his will for my life and I ask him to grant me the courage to follow it, but when it comes down to the moment of decision, when I see before me the path he has planned for me, I get a little apprehensive. I start thinking things like, “That looks hard. I can’t do THAT! Even with the stuff you have given me, I know I’m going to fail; I know I’m not going to like this.” And all the while, God stands there encouraging us, telling us “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1),” and “It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit (John 15:16).”
In the next moment, my son jumped into my arms and with a great big smile he swam off, happy to have learned a new skill. As I reflect on that accomplishment I realize a few things that were in place that made it possible for my son to jump:
- He was equipped for the jump
- He knew that I loved him
- He trusted me
God has given us all that we need to fulfill the mission he asks each of us to accept and he will continue to provide the grace necessary for us to persevere in that mission. It is up to us to come to know Him well enough to really know His explicit love for each of us. We must also trust that He knows what is best for us and He will not lead us from that. In order to do that we (myself included) must spend time with Him on a daily basis, reading His Word, and allowing it to permeate our lives. In the end, we still need to make the decision: we can either trust our loving Lord and jump or stay standing on the ledge where our fears leave us baking in the hot sun.