“I can do it Grandpa, I promise!!” My argument continued to fall on deaf ears as I tried to convince my grandpa I could indeed jump off the dock on the lake and not drown. He continued to silently rock back and forth on the porch swing that hung from the big, shady oak tree by the lake. This was one of his favorite spots on his property. But I was destroying the peace he loved so much.
Maybe he didn’t hear me. “GRANDPA!! I’M ABLE TO SWIM, I PROMISE!” The desperation to take that coveted leap may have made me embellish my 1 lesson in the water that barely consisted of introductions and instructions to never talk your grandpa into allowing you to jump off a dock into a deep lake until all water education was completed.
However, I was a very busy 8-year old at the time! I had rocks to skip, tadpoles to catch, trees to climb, grandparents to manipulate. There was no time for this silly nonsense of actually learning before leaping.
Besides, my cousin, Shelley, 5 months my junior was always allowed to jump off the dock into the lake. When my grandpa tried to explain Shelley had taken several months of swim lessons in the very lake by which we argued, he was met with a scoffing sound. I looked around for the rude person who would have the nerve to be so disrespectful to my short-tempered grandfather. Unfortunately, I realized I was that person.
My irritated and exasperated grandpa, tired of the fight, decided it was pointless to continue to argue with a stubborn child who insisted in learning things on her own. “Go jump in the lake!” he yelled.
I bolted from the swing before he could change his mind, ran straight onto the dock, and splashed through the puddles left from the many flying leaps my cousin had already taken from the “stationary diving board.”
As soon as my toes touched the end of the platform, I jumped and sailed through the air, arms outstretched. Feeling the wind in my hair, I closed my eyes and enjoyed my moment of victory and took pleasure that I was doing something my parents would surely incarcerate me in my room for later. But right now, I was free and I was going to squeeze every bit of pleasure I could from this adventure.
Relishing the moment a bit too long, I forgot to take a breath before plunging into the dark, murky water. Only taking into consideration how to get into the water, I had not given thought to how to get out. It was then I realized the wisdom in the advice to learn to swim before leaping.
It seemed like minutes as I sank deeper and deeper underwater. Wondering when I would stop, I suddenly felt my feet sink into the squishy, gooey mud at the bottom, leaving nothing hard in which to push off. Already feeling as if my lungs were on fire, I began to flail my arms and legs in an attempt to reach the top that felt 100 feet above.
Disoriented, I could only wonder if I was traveling upwards toward that cool breath of fresh air or if I was just spinning in circles. My lungs screamed for air. I couldn’t hold out much longer before my body would instinctively gasp for air only to take in dirty lake water.
Realizing I couldn’t save myself, I knew I needed Jesus! Nothing else mattered in that moment. Schoolwork, the fight with my sister, my cousin being able to do things I only wished I could, all of it went away.
It was just me and Jesus.
I prayed for Jesus to save me. It was in that moment my hands escaped the pressure of the water and felt the freedom of fresh air. Finally my mouth and nose broke through the surface and I was able to gasp for air. I choked and sputtered while thrashing around, trying not to be swallowed by the water again.
Suddenly, I felt strong hands grab me under my arms and pull me to the safety of the dock. My grandpa stood looking down at my face as I lay on the dock, sucking in as much air as humanly possible. We stared at each other too shocked to say anything for a full minute. When I finally stopped choking up water, he said, “I told you!” and walked away. Gotta love a softhearted man.
Do you feel as if you’re drowning because of choices you’ve made? Are you flailing trying to save yourself knowing it’s futile? Call on Jesus! He can bring you back to the surface and provide a breath of fresh air. Give Him your mistakes. He’s the Master at taking our ashes and turning them into something beautiful. Ignore the “I told you’s.”
Nothing else matters at this moment. It’s you and Jesus. Call on Him. He’ll save you.
“…..He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…. to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes….” ~ Isaiah 61:1,3
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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson