Sam and Eli love going to see our neighbors. They also love going in our neighbor’s pool. It provides fun times of splashing and playing catch as well as a great way to cool off. They both enjoy jumping in the water, but there the similarities end.
Sam used to like running and jumping in the pool for me to catch him. Now he wants to play it safe. You can see him calculating everything before he jumps. It doesn’t matter that I am there to catch him, he can’t seem to will himself to take that leap of joy. Now it is a measured, grab-my-hand-first, tentative jump in the water.
Eli, on the other hand, jumps with reckless abandon and pure, contagious joy You would never know that Sam is older because this one-and-a-half-year-old runs and jumps in. He doesn’t seem to worry about his Dad being ready for him or not. He assumes that I will catch him. And so, with a great smile, he jumps and plunges to the bottom and then he kicks up. Only then do I grab him.
What a contrast. One boy sees his father, trusts, and jumps. The other boy sees his father, sees the pool, and hesitates.
You should know, it is not a surprise to me that they are both my boys. I want to be like Eli and jump in my Father’s arms, but too often I am like Sam and first scan the landing area and make sure it is safe if I am not caught—and then I jump.
I understand too well what Paul said in Romans 7:18, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” There is a fight going on in my soul. Trust vs. Fear. Safety vs. Daredevil.
When Jesus called the disciples, He called them to follow Him. They heard His voice and they jumped. They listened and went. They didn’t ask the questions, they followed.
I know that, but I can’t seem to get my feet to move. I am quick to remind myself that Jesus asks us to follow Him while counting the cost. I use it as an excuse not to jump because too often I count the cost, worry about the cost and protect myself against the cost—and then say, “Jesus, I know You want me to follow You, can You come up here and get me because I don’t know if I can jump.”
The more I grow as a disciple, the more I realize that what is holding me back from following Him is not a lack of knowledge, nor is it a lack of skill, but it is a lack of will, the will to trust and jump.
Oh, I want to be more like Eli. But how? How can I be more bold, more trusting?
Not being on the ledge at the moment, some answers come to mind. (It is always easier to think when you are not on the ledge). I think of three things that might help me and any disciple of Jesus.
Reflect. Trust. Joy.
Reflect. There are a number of Psalms (78 and 105 are just two of them) where the Israelites seem to reflect on all of the blessings that God has poured out to them in the past. I believe they do this so that they will not forget that God has caught them and He will continue to catch them. For me this means that I need to have a journal of blessings so that when tough times come I do not have to fret but can remember God’s faithfulness and trust His ability moving forward.
Trust. Growing up near the ocean in northern Massachusetts, I learned a valuable lesson. When you want to go in the water, just run in and dive. If there is a dock, even better. Yes, you will freeze. But you will get over it really fast. This is better than torturing yourself for twenty minutes as you enter the water inch by inch. There are times when I should just jump into my Father’s arms. Not think about it. Not look down. Just jump. He will catch me. We all need to practice childlike trust. His words to His disciples on the last night from John 14:1 help us: “Do no let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me.” Trust me. Jump. I will catch you.
Joy. Oh how I miss that joy of jumping into my Father’s arms. There is such pleasure when He does catch me and love me, which He always does. Why do I forget about this? Yet I know I do. Yes, as we get older it seems easier to lose that childlike trust and pure, contagious joy. We become serious, for good reasons, but sometimes we need to exercise joy. There is joy in following Him and we must never forget it.
I don’t know about you, but I want another shot at jumping in. I want the experience of being caught so I can put it in the memory bank. I want the joy of being held. I want that childlike trust. I want to follow Jesus like the disciples.
Here I come, God. I am ready to jump.