When Daniel was about 4 years old, our family enjoyed a membership at a swimming and tennis club close to our home. That particular summer, it seemed a wise choice to enroll him in swimming lessons. Grandma lived nearby in a home with a pool and, judging from my own experiences as a child growing up in the same home with the same pool, there would always be a lure…I “fell in” the pool numerous times as a kid. Because I had learned to swim early, none of these “accidental” experiences resulted in a catastrophe. While I am aware that nothing should keep us from being vigilant when our children are near water, I nevertheless wanted the *added* assurance that swimming lessons might bring.
I had no idea just how difficult this undertaking would be for Daniel–let alone ME!!!
The swimming instructor had given me explicit instructions that while I could observe, it needed to be from a distance–where Daniel would have no way of seeing me.
The day for the first lesson dawned. I reluctantly handed my youngster over to a capable instructor (I had watched him instruct others and felt confident in his ability both to teach and in being sensitive to the needs of kids and their parents). I stationed myself well out of Daniel’s eye-shot, but where I could stand dutiful, watchful guard.
Daniel was fine initially, having played in Grandma’s swimming pool a lot, but as the instructor gently took Daniel out into deeper water, Daniel’s cries and pleas broke my heart. In fact, the more he thrashed and screamed in panic, the more the tears fell from my *own* eyes. If he would just trust…if he would just allow himself even to enjoy the experience. But no…he had no idea *why* what was happening was happening. He had no idea that it could be *fun*. He only knew the terror of the moment. And I wept as I saw this. It took everything in me to trust, too…to wait it out.
Without going into all the gory details, I *did* have to resist the instinctual urge not to move in to “rescue” my son. From what? From who? From an instructor that I was paying to help provide a skill to Daniel that could possibly save his life?
I am sure that, had he been able to verbalize it at the time, Daniel would have stated that he was convinced I had abandoned him…that he was tormented beyond his ability to withstand. He would probably have angrily told me how I had let him down, left him to die or something…He had no idea in the midst of it that 1.) I was watching carefully–though unseen 2.) my intentions were good, not evil in allowing this 3.) that the current difficulty he was going through was ultimately for his betterment.
The swimming lesson ended well that day…Daniel ultimately relaxed comfortably with the instructor and began to actually enjoy the experience, fortunately. That summer he *did* learn to swim and has been a great swimmer ever since.
This photo was taken a few years later, but as you can see, he is in the DEEP end of Grandma’s pool…totally relishing summer fun in the sun. And I breathed a little easier whenever we were at Grandma’s knowing that he had some basic skills.
God is a good, watchful, vigilant Father. Yet, sometimes, he chooses to seem distant–for reasons that may be beyond our ability to fathom at the time. In fact, he may have *ordained* the very circumstances that we find ourselves struggling so desperately to “swim” through. The waters seem deep and like they will overcome us.
Our Lord is near. He is watchful. His intentions are for our good. It could be that the very thing we are going through, though beyond our ability to understand at the time, will be the very thing that provides a needed skill, or the spiritual maturity to enable us to “survive” something that God knows is yet ahead.
When I feel that God is distant and aloof, I am reminded of the time that I handed Daniel over to one of the most terrifying experiences of his life for the sake of potentially saving his life, yet I remained out of sight as well.
Daniel’s swimming lessons have enabled Daniel to enjoy many a summer swimming party in the 12 years since he learned to swim. We have gone to lakes and played in rivers (carefully!).
God is there. God isn’t just “letting” things happen to us as we sometimes think. Sometimes he “ordains” the very trials that will change us forever. He does it all because of His great love for us.
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