Parenthood · Spiritual · Stories

When God Throws You In the Deep End

I was asked to periodically write the sermon reflections for my church here in Indy (Common Ground Christian Church West). Each week, we send out a little sermon summary with some reflection questions, thus it’s called the sermon reflection.

I have been mulling over a blog involving my daughter Heidi’s swim lessons, and it leant itself well to the sermon reflection I wrote this week. As a congregation, we are reading through the book of John and had been discussing the story of the adulterous woman who was almost stoned by the judgmental crowd. Jesus stopped them and said, “Anyone without sin, cast the first stone.” We talked about how the Gospel always causes conflict. Jesus wants to set us all free (the woman from her sin, the people from their judging) but we cling to a lot of things in our lives that we really don’t need to. Maybe because it’s familiar? Comfortable? Whatever it is, we’re afraid to let go and trust Jesus. Turns out my daughter is afraid to let go too. I suppose it’s a human thing. 

Either way, wanted to share the reflection here. 🙂

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My daughter has taken swim lessons since she was a baby. I took a few classes with her and then I sent her to a few classes by herself. She has always done very well, and we spend many days each summer at our neighborhood pool. She is now nearly five years old, with a little toddling daredevil brother, and so I felt it was important she begin to learn to swim without the aid of floaties.

Turns out, she is terrified to swim without the aid of these floaties.  She went into her first lesson with a smile on her face and a skip in her step. But once she found out they were teaching her to swim without the aid of any flotation devices, she began to cry and wouldn’t stop. We tried two more lessons after that to no avail. Finally I pulled her out and committed to taking her to the pool myself to get her more comfortable in the water. Then we would reevaluate.

We began by putting her in a life jacket. It didn’t take long for her to figure out that these are awesome and allow her to go wherever she wants with little effort. However, as I encouraged her to remove it, letting her know I wouldn’t let her go yet, she stiffened and cried and refused. I reassured her until my face turned blue that I would never let anything happen to her. I insisted this was important to learn for safety reasons. I bribed her with how great it would be to swim floatie-free, how much fun she could have with the big kids. But she wasn’t having it.

She was resistant in the way I think we all are sometimes when God aims us toward the deep ends of life.  We start tojump and trust feel comfortable, like we have the hang of things. We have things we cling to, maybe a sin or an idol, and God wants to strip us of those so we can taste freedom

I have proven my love for my daughter countless times. She knows I am safe. She knows I’d never hurt her. And yet she feels fear as I push her limits, as I encourage her to let go, as I reassure her I will teach her as we go. She just cannot get those lies out of her head: you’ll drown. Mom will let go. This isn’t safe. The water will overcome you. You’ll never learn. You NEED that life jacket. Meanwhile, all I can think is that this is a matter of life and death. She MUST master this skill. Life will open up for her if she does.

I just kept hearing myself on repeat, Trust me…trust me…TRUST ME. Let go.

And there lies the rub. We must let go. Let go and risk being overtaken by the waves of life. And we also risk being caught by surprise in the arms of Jesus.

Jesus urged the adulterous woman to trust Him. I can only imagine she initially resisted in fear. He urged the stone throwers to trust Him. I can only imagine they balked at his “lack” of justice. And He urged them in His testimony to trust Him. Why should they? They asked. And his response is so much like my response to my daughter: Isn’t my life and testimony enough? Trust me.

Jesus woes us into the safety of His light. Our flesh resists, but it is the safest place. -Jeff Krajewski

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. ~C.S. Lewis

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