Last weekend, my family and I took an overnight trip to Cincinnati. Monday was a big day, because it was my son’s birthday AND my kids had the day off school. We celebrated both of those by doing something that kids everywhere seem to enjoy in the wintertime: stay at a hotel with a pool.
For some reason, there are few things more exciting to my kids than spending hours jumping in and out of an indoor pool, even though the room is so hot and humid it takes your breath away. Personally, I’m not a big one for spending hours at the indoor pool, but they love it. As my kids were jumping in and out of the pool last weekend, I remembered another pool incident where my son learned a valuable lesson about swimming pools and life.
He was just learning to swim and still very unsure of the whole thing. It was at the beginning of the “pool season” (when you live in Chicago, there’s definitely a “pool season” and “no-pool season”), and he had regressed since the previous summer. The year before he had been jumping in, paddling around, and generally having a great time. But this year, all he wanted to do was splash around on the stairs. (You know—the stairs that let you walk in and out of the pool like a model in a Special K commercial.)
So there’s my son: wearing some sort of flotation device and splashing on the stairs. No jumping in for him. I did not understand this. Especially when seven short months ago he was having so much fun. What had happened? How could he have forgotten? I tried to entice him to leave the comfort of the stairs and venture into the deeper waters, but he didn’t want to hear about it. “I’m having fun here, Dad,” was his response. Kids.
Over the next couple days, something happened. He started to see that the pool was much larger than the ankle-deep water he had been kicking around in on the stairs for several days. Then it happened. All of a sudden, I saw him leave the stairs and walk along the side of the pool with a look of both fear and anticipation in his eyes. He walked to the edge. He paused for a moment on the side of the pool, staring intently at the water. Then his knees bent and his arms went up in the air as he left the comfort of the concrete for the possibility of big air and deep water. He plunged under the water. His flotation device quickly did its job and pulled him back to the service, his whole head covered with water, mouth sputtering, hands flailing, and eyes blinking. He had a huge smile on his face.
His mom and I told him how great a job he did, “What a great jump!” As he kicked and paddled around the pool, he said something I wasn’t expecting. “I was wrong, Dad. I shouldn’t have stayed on the stairs. I was wrong. Jumping in off the side isn’t scary, it’s fun!!” I couldn’t believe it. Significant truth from my son’s lips.
How many of us do the same thing in different areas of our lives? We allow everyday life to get in the way of things we know to be true. Things like:
• God is larger and higher and wiser and stronger than I can possibly understand, yet He loves me and sees me.
• My wife is an amazing woman and I am blessed to be married to her.
• This world we live in isn’t just made up of the things we can see or touch; there is more to our reality.
• The good news of Jesus is that God is re-making the world and we get to be a part of the project.
So often I find myself splashing around in the ankle-deep water or deadlines, to-do lists, and petty arguments and forgetting that deeper truth that is within my reach—a moment-by-moment connection with God, a chance to add my voice to the worship raised by all creation, an opportunity to work with creativity to offer hope and peace and strength to people around me that need them.
I want to live my life in the deep end of the pool and not be satisfied in the shallow, ankle-deep water.
What about you? In what area of your life have you settled for less than God’s best? How do you think you can rediscover the awe and wonder that goes along with the life God wants for you?
I think we’ll be asking these questions for the rest of our lives. We’ve got to constantly wrestle with them if we’re going to effectively lead others to worship God and connect with Him in meaningful ways. Let’s not settle; let’s jump in.