JULY 23, 2019
I’m getting ready, attempting to leave the house on time (won’t happen today), but our four year-old is standing next to me in the bathroom demanding ‘floating lessons’. Like, now. Right now. Backstory: we’ve been teaching him swimming lessons all summer and while he’s been picking it up quickly, he won’t be ‘swim-ready’ during the week we’re about to spend at the lake. So, for safety sake, the wifey bought him a perfectly-sized lifejacket for the trip, after which we’ll resume lessons.
He’s a brave little kid (and I swear, a future MMA fighter), but he did not like me letting him go in the shallow end the first time he wore it. He’s aware enough to know his still-developing swimming skills weren’t enough to keep him alive, but he didn’t yet understand what a lifejacket is and does and thus he panicked. Eventually, a big smile broke out across his little freckled face when he realized the life jacket wasn’t just adequate to the task, it was designed to do that very thing. He could trust it.
Yes, Jesus is the life jacket; you know that and I know that you know that. But stick with me – back to this morning…
Since our little guy had experience with swimming lessons, he was now asking for ‘floating lessons.’ And I had to smile because, as you and I both know, you don’t need any skills or knowledge to use a life jacket. It does the work, not you. Instead, you just trust it and relax and have fun. In short, there aren’t any floating lessons.
One day very soon, our four year-old won’t need that life jacket. Like his older siblings, he’ll learn to swim on his own. But I will never not need Jesus the way my son needed that life jacket at that moment. That panicky, primal feeling in your gut of ‘I don’t have enough – am not enough – on my own’ ? That’s real. And my trying hard and ‘being good’? Just so much splashing. Yes, we learn and grow in wisdom and understanding and clearly those are good things, but do they make me need my floatation device any less? Not even a little bit.
On some days, I white knuckle grip my ‘life jacket’ like a shipwreck victim. But selfishly, I prefer the days when, like my son, I can untense and smile and enjoy floating. Not because ‘life is good’, but because I know that God most certainly is.
If there is such thing as a ‘floating lesson’, that may be it.