In the swim of life
We parents can learn a lot from the way we deal with our children.
I have found so many good answers to my own problems for instance, in teaching my children to swim.
When teaching children this important skill, you don’t just throw them into the pool and wait to see what happens. You also don't pick them up and carry them across the pool all the time, or they would never learn to swim for themselves. Usually they are still a bit scared when you get into the water and scream, “Daddy, I’m scared,” and cling to you like an octopus. Anyway, this is what my daughter did.
But you slowly encourage them; talk them through, gently supporting and generally getting them used to the feel of this new encounter or life experience. They learn only by going through the experiences that each lesson brings, even though they’re scared. You as the parent know – with the grace of God – that while you are there by their side, you won’t let them drown – even if they swallow water and cough and splutter sometimes. All these things are part of the lesson; even though the child thinks she is drowning – you know your feet are on solid ground and you can pick her up in an instant if she gets into trouble.
As the days and weeks go by, they not only learn to have faith in you and your constant presence and ability to protect them, but through that faith, they learn confidence and boldness in the ability they have to cope with far more difficult situations.
All by themselves
Then eventually the day comes when they can swim by themselves – but you are still only a moment away, just in case.
Then, of course, they get so confident that the pendulum swings and they’re doing all sorts of stuff to frighten the life out of you – but that’s another story.
If our children were too afraid to experience those difficult times in the water, they would never learn to swim. And they would miss out on all the joy and fun they have once they gain their confidence – splashing and jumping and having fun with all the other kids.
But nobody can learn to swim for them. They have to go through those learning experiences for themselves. It is a fact that those who get rid of fear the soonest, get through the lessons the quickest, and go on to new and greater confidence.
Our Almighty Father also does not just throw us in the deep end and leave us to sink or swim. He even promises that when we find ourselves in deep water, he will be there for us. When Peter’s faith faltered and he was in danger of drowning, Jesus reached out and saved him. God has promised that he will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Fear is our greatest enemy and one of Satan’s most powerful tools
He, like any loving parent, slowly coaches us through small trials and helps us grow in faith and trust in him. Though trials may seem terrible and frightening to you and me, if we take the first step, swim the first stroke and leave what we cannot do to him – we can watch and be amazed at how he works things out for our ultimate good and for his glory!
Fear is our greatest enemy and one of Satan’s most powerful tools. It immobilises us and makes us like that child in the swimming pool, clinging like an octopus – too scared to let go. Like Peter, we have to step off that boat in confidence (and you will note that it was only Peter who stepped off the boat – not all the disciples). It takes courage to take that step, but the rewards are amazing. Peter, a human being like the rest of us actually did walk on water.
Look at the past
Just because you cannot see where he is taking you, is no need to be afraid. It has been said that you can’t move forward while you are looking back, and that’s true. But you do need to look in your rear view mirror every now and then.
Look back and see the experiences he has already guided you through in your life. Look for his hand in your past and you will find it. He even turns our bad choices into good learning experiences: “…when troubles come your way, consider it opportunity for great joy, for you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…” (James 1:2-3 NLT).
This is not easy – especially at first. It is a conscious decision that we have to make: “Do I really believe in God and his mighty power, or do I believe Satan – like that “boogie man” trying to frighten me.
If someone frightens our young children, what do they do? They come running and screaming to us to protect them – and they know we will. They don’t doubt it. That is exactly what we need to do when we are afraid of some problem looming out there. When we run screaming to our loving Father he will protect us and bring us peace of mind. But it takes a lot of practice; the testing of our faith develops perseverance! That’s why God allows us to cough and splutter and swallow a bit of water now and then when we are trying to do it our way.
And why does he allow this? “So that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
Wrapped in strong arms
Things are not easy in this world today. I don’t think any of us are cruising along having a wonderful life.
But, close your eyes and try to remember when you were a child, held closely by your Mom or Dad, or whoever, with your back against them, looking out over a scene, maybe snug inside their big thick duffle coat – wrapped in strong arms. Remember that feeling of warmth and protection and love in spite of the bad weather, or the high rock you were on, or the stormy sea that you were looking over.
Our swim through life might be scary, but if we can say to ourselves “Lord, I really do trust you to see me through this,” he can turn that fear into exhilaration as we watch in amazement while he takes us through deeper water, even stormy seas.
If we can only learn to enjoy that salt spray in our faces instead of being frightened by the grey swirling water, because we know without doubt that he is holding us.
Eventually when our children have grown straight and tall, we can lovingly put our arms around them and say “I love you and I’m so proud of you. I know you’ve had to swim through some tough times in your life, but you’ve succeeded. Well done!” A foretaste of what we will experience one day When God says to you and me: “Good and faithful servant, come to the banquet with me, my child, and heir with me to the throne. I’m proud of you. Well done!”
So as we “swim” through the next weeks and months and years of our lives, with all the sharks and boogie men that appear looming up out of the shadows, fierce and frightening, let’s make a conscious decision to snuggle into our Father’s arms and say “I’m scared, Lord.”
He will say quietly to you: “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).