Jumping into the deep end

My five-year-old niece recently developed a passion for jumping into the deep end. One day she simply shed her life vest (with her mother’s supervision), jumped into the deep end of the pool, and swam to the ladder. Even though the water was way over her head, she showed no fear.

When I was little I couldn’t wait to jump into a pool of water. On hot summer days, my younger sister and I would beg my mom or older siblings to drive us to the home of either one of our two (favorite) aunts who owned pools. We didn’t bother with hair, make-up, finding a swimsuit that didn’t make us look fat. We just worked ourselves into our cheap bathing suits (that was hard because they were always damp from the day before), hopped into the car, and beeped the horn until a suitable driver responded to take us away.

If we were lucky, one of those aunts would host a picnic during the summer, which meant more opportunity for swimming. A picnic on my dad’s side of the family meant the kids dominated the pool for most of the day. My dad and his three brothers would eat, argue politics, play bridge or pinochle, nap. But then at a certain time, the four of them would head to the pool. During their time in the water, you could remain in with them only if you didn’t splash, play, swim, breath, etc., while they bobbed. Since they could detect the tiniest ripple of water not caused by them, the wise child froze in place to avoid being banished for the duration.

It was always amazing to me to see those four big men slowly lower themselves into the pool. I’d wonder how the water could hold their weight. I took for granted that it would hold me up. But the big guys trusted the water for support, too? As a child, I figured they entered the pool so cautiously because maybe one of those times it really wouldn’t hold them, and they would sink instead of float.

I love this quote by Lilias Trotter which brings me back to those days:

‘I am come into deep waters’ took on new meaning this morning . . . It dawned [on me] that shallow waters were a place where you can neither sink nor swim. In deep waters it is either the one or the other . . . Swimming is the intensest, most strenuous form of motion. All of you is involved in it, and yet every inch of you is in abandonment of rest upon the water that bears you up. ‘We rest in Thee in Thy Name we go.’

That quote makes me picture a child who is over his head in the deep end, doggy paddling for all he’s worth, and all the time he’s being held afloat by the arms of a loving father. What a great analogy of our life in Christ!

I guess the problem is that we can’t really experience this fully if we stick to the shallows. We have to push through the fear that maybe this time the water won’t support our weight, and go deep.

Miss Trotter’s words also remind me why God rightly receives the glory for all we do. We busy ourselves with the things of the Lord, Bible study, prayer, assembling together with other Christians, evangelism, outreach, and the Holy Spirit enables it all as He works in us and through us.

Lilias Trotter learned this truth during her life as a missionary. Born in 1853 to an affluent English family, she eventually became a missionary to the Muslims in Algeria in spite of a heart problem and the dangers and difficulties for women in the Muslim culture. You can read about her story in Miriam Rockness’s book A Passion for the Impossible.

View Miss Trotter’s original artwork in her classic book Parables of the Cross.

You can also read about Lilias Trotter here and here.

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2 Responses to Jumping into the deep end

  1. Maureen says:

    I grew up with a creek behind my house. So, in the summer I was always in it and in the winter I was always on it! I loved both activities of swimming or ice skating. The ice would get so thick that our neighbor would use his tractor on the ice to plow the snow off and many nights we would have a bonfire on the ice. It barely gets a thin coating of ice on it now!

    The only time I swam in a pool as a child was traumatic for me. I was only 6 and somehow I was encouraged to dive off the diving board. I nearly drowned! To this day I cannot use a diving board!

    Fear can be so paralyzing! It can keep me from doing something fun or it can also keep me from doing things that I need to do. Through many life experiences, I am learning to push through that fear and to rely on God to see me through. I still have a long way to go, but at least I can see progress!

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