Sink or Swim

Matthew 14.28-31  Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’

I was reading one of my favorite authors the other day, and he told a story that mirrored my own. Here is my story. When I was five years old, give or take, my family was traveling on vacation, and we had stopped at a motel for the evening. The motel had a pool, which might make it a hotel, but I’m not sure. Anyway, the next morning my brother and sister woke me up and told asked if I wanted to come to the pool with them. Of course, I was super excited to be with my older siblings, eight and 12 years older, respectively. To make a long story short, my brother, the oldest among us, offered to teach me to swim. I was excited as I had not ever been outside the baby pool before and I wanted desperately to be a big boy.

I quickly agreed and he proceeded to throw me into the deep end of the pool. The feeling of nearly drowning has haunted me my entire life. I have never forgotten the feeling of sinking and crying out for help, watching my brother through eyes wet with tears and pool water. As time slowed down, I wondered why he wasn’t helping me, but instead stood with his arms folded and watched. He never moved from the spot he threw me in, but he just kept yelling, “SWIM!!”. Now, my siblings had attempted to teach me in the past in the baby pool. Still, I never took it seriously because my feet could touch the bottom quickly, so I just kept putting my feet down. This time I couldn’t put my feet down, it was 10 feet to the bottom of the pool. I swallowed some water, and my head was throbbing, but something happened at that moment. I remembered what my siblings tried to teach me. I began to kick my feet in a somewhat orderly fashion, and then move my arms in the water instead of over my head flailing. I began to swim. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it. I love to swim to this day! I love swimming in the ocean the most, and I feel more at peace in the ocean tide than anywhere else on earth, but I hated my brother for a while after that day. I felt like he was trying to kill me, but he was freeing me. He was showing me what I had inside of me and offering me a gift that I have treasured my entire life. The moment was traumatic, but looking back, he never left the edge of the pool, and I hope, lol, that we would have jumped in had I gone under and not come up.

Looking back at our private road, I wonder if there are instances where we felt like God had thrown us into the deep end of life without any hope of swimming. I wonder if we enjoy a strength today that came from those moments owing God a thank you and an I’m sorry. Because he never left the edge of the pool but loved us enough to allow what he had planted inside of us space to bloom.  Why not take a few moments today and reflect on those moments that made you stronger, wiser, and more prepared to tackle life and made you strong enough to reach a hand out to those that can’t swim yet.  


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