Swim Lessons

I was never afraid to jump in the water. In fact, as a kid, I loved the water. Both my brother and I were like little fish in all the places we lived growing up. Whether it was a swimming pool in Oklahoma or a beach in Hawaii, we jumped in with joy and definitely without fear; that is, until, one day, my courage was challenged.

My father had decided to swim with us, so that meant I could swim in the deep end.   I was standing on the edge of a pool in the same type of place I had stood so many times at the shallow end and effortlessly and seamlessly ran and jumped.  I had always trusted the waters to catch me in the shallow end, but now I was being asked to trust my father in the deep end.  He gently prodded me saying “Tara, jump. I’ll catch you. I will not let you drown.”  I agonized over that jump and after what seemed like at least five minutes of prodding and convincing, I finally jumped, and just as he promised, my dad caught me, and I didn’t drown.

How many times has this type of incident manifested in my adult life?  As I try to navigate “jumping” into the unchartered waters of my life, I stand by the side of the “pool” hoping my Daddy God will catch me. Knowing that God is in the deep end ready to catch me, why is it still so difficult to jump into the water?

I sense that when God removes our ability to be independent or when our jump or leap requires a trust that wasn’t demanded of us before, we can all struggle to fully trust just like Peter did when He stepped out of the boat. Some may focus on the fact that Peter sank while walking to Jesus, but even though he lacked a certain faith to completely make it to Jesus without sinking into the water,  he had the faith to at least step out into the sea and begin to walk.  It’s not like he had ever seen someone do this before in his lifetime.  Well, actually he had seen someone do it just minutes before. That someone was Jesus.  Jesus had already walked on the water that he was asking Peter to step out upon.  The Author and Finisher and Alpha and Omega had already been in those waters, and, now,  He was asking Peter to trust Him in those same waters.

Jon Acuff, a speaker at the Love Does conference I attended recently in Austin, TX said, “Sometimes God gives us courage before He gives us clarity.”  I considered if this was really true.  I first thought of those in the Bible to whom this could apply, and I thought of Noah building an ark when it had never rained before, David standing before Goliath, Moses being told to say “I AM” sent  him, Abraham moving to the land God would eventually show him, and Esther approaching the king hoping for favor. Then I began to think, “If this was true for them, is it true for us? Has God given us courage before clarity?”  I wonder, if like another speaker (Rebekah Lyons) at the conference asked:  “Should we spend more time praying for courage than we do praying for clarity?” Could God be calling to us in the midst of the ambiguity and saying “Jump to me!  I’ll catch you and you won’t drown!”

I wonder if that is what happened to Peter. He had a burst of courage to jump, but when he realized what He had done, he panicked. In that moment of panic, he failed to remember he had obeyed what Jesus had told him to do, so there was no reason to fear. The only clarity he needed in that moment was the fact that Jesus had told him to do something and that Jesus was in the water with Him.  He is our clarity to go along with the courage He gives us. He is our Light, and even if we can only see the path directly in front of our feet, if He is with us, and we obey Him, we cannot fail.

Some, if not most of our greatest successes or experiences in life are usually the results of these types of blind leaps of faith. God’s arms feel much more secure than the air around us in the moments between take-off and landing, but once we make it into His arms in the deep end, just like any kid, we want to climb out of the pool and do it again.  God being in the deep gives us all the security we need to leave the familiar and shallow where our feet can touch the bottom and our “floaties” could save us, but it requires a courageous leap.

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