I watched as he hung by this fingertips, desperately calling "Help me! Help!"
We were at camp and we had already had wonderful time in chapel services the night before. Now it was time to have some fun on the lake. The wind had begun to pick up and it was making the lake waters pretty choppy, but all in all it was a beautiful day. One of the favorite activities of all the children was a giant canvas/tarp waterslide that led into the lake, and one by one they climbed the stairs to the top to slide their way down into the cooling waters of the lake. Each wore the required life vest and looked like little oompa loompas as they ran around playing in the summer sun. Patiently they climbed the stairs and waited for the thrill of the slide. Finally it was this little boy's turn for the adventure!
I didn't know his name, he was a little fellow, but not the smallest in the group by any means. Dark haired and freckled faced, he stood at the top and in a moment began his first slide. The wind was quite brisk and had blown a lot of the water out of the slide so half way down he slowed to a stop. The counselors at the top turned the hose to add water and encouraged him to scoot on down. Finally had sat at the bottom of the slide, his feet dangling over. Everyone around him was yelling to him to jump, but it was quickly becoming evident that he wasn't so sure he should have gotten on this slide in the first place. Finally he jumped...but without letting go. Now he hung there, clutching the end of the canvas slide and cried out, "Help me! Help!"
I stood on the dock in tears; my heart hurt for this little one. I could see the fear on his face and I soon joined in the shouts of "Jump! Let go! It will be okay!" but still he hung there, crying out for help. I'm sure to him it seemed like an eternity...as if no one noticed his plight! He just wanted someone to save him from the predicament he had gotten into! After a moment, the lifeguard saw that this little one was NOT going to let go and therefore safely go into the water where he would float and could dog paddle his way if necessary to the dock, so she jumped in and swam the few yards over to him.
I turned to my friend who stood there beside me and said, "Isn't that just like what we so often do with God. We cry out, 'Help me! Help!' and all those around us are shouting to let go, but we just won't. We are too afraid."
The little boy was fine, of course. Once the life guard reached him, he let go and entered the water with a small splash. The two of them held on to the red buoy and slowly made their way in. By the time he climbed onto the dock, he was much calmer. He had realized what the rest of us had known all along, that he had on a life vest and he was safe. I think he even smiled.
The funny thing is, just hours after this scene had unfolded I was talking to my friend about something I had been struggling with. She reminded me of my own words and that little boy...just let go and trust God. I thought about that little boy and the image of him hanging there, crying out for help; and I had to wonder how many times have I been that little boy. Those around me can see that what I really need to do is let go of the problem and just trust God, but I'm afraid. I have so many promises from God that He will take care of me and that He can be trusted, yet still I cling to the "slide" and cry out for help. What I really need to do is just let go.
After my young friend was safely out of the way, the next child who had patiently waited (and called out as loudly as the rest for him to jump) made his way to the starting spot. He jumped and slid down with joy and made a BIG splash when he hit the water. He bobbed quickly to the surface with a huge smile on his face and grinned as he swam to the dock, enjoying every second of this thrilling ride.
I want to be like that second child, the one who enjoyed the adventure. It's time to release my grip and trust that God will take care of me and those that I love. It's time to stop living in fear and instead enjoy the ride. I don't have to worry; I have on a "life vest" and the one who loves me is ever watching to make sure I can dog-paddle my way home. Let's be honest, in all my "hanging on" I can't do a thing about the situation anyway!
It's time to "let go." Care to join me? From what I can see, when we do we will be in for a wonderful adventure...and the splash will be epic!
Matthew 16:24-25 (Voice)