I think the fear began the day before our wedding in December of 1974. I was taking my very last university final. For my elective that quarter (we were on a quarter system at the University of Florida) I had taken a life guarding class. Since the month was December, and the only school pool at the time was outdoors, the water was heated. I still remember many cold days when I would quickly throw off my warm up suit and race into the pool…desiring as little time as possible to be exposed to the elements while wearing a swimsuit. (In that part of Florida during that time of year the temperature often reached the 30’s and 40’s.) A few days before this final test the pool heater broke and the water was cold. Very cold. My instructor postponed the lifesaving test for a future date when the heater was working, but I couldn’t wait. I was getting married and moving to a new state the very next day so I requested to take it as originally scheduled. The water and air temperature were ridiculous as I dove in for my test. (I got such severe leg cramps my “victim” had to help me out of the pool.) Needless to say, I’m sure you never saw me sitting on a lifeguard’s chair.
My family fully understands (through years of observation) that it takes me a really, really loooong time to place myself in cold water. In fact, it usually doesn’t happen. I’ll start in with my toes, then after 15 minutes or so work up the courage to get my feet in. After about a half hour of inching myself in, I will either slowly submerge myself with a scream…or give up and get out. Usually I get out. Yes I know it would be simpler (in your mind) to just jump in. I really don’t enjoy this dilemma, because I like to swim.
Imagine my joy when I found out early this year that a gym near my house contains a pool where the water temperature stays in the mid to high 80’s. Aaahhh. I signed up and have been swimming all year. I eagerly and willingly jump in with no hesitation whatsoever! I don’t even bother to gingerly put a toe in before getting all wet…I’m quickly “all in” swimming laps. The water is invitingly delightful. I stay in as long as possible.
As I returned home from swimming today, I thought of how I (and I’m likely not alone so will use “we”) can too often hesitate toward wholeheartedly “jumping in” with God…opting to put a toe or two in the water. We can hesitate in simply obeying the Scriptures when they seem hard. We can hesitate by way of indecision and procrastination. We can hesitate in reaching out and sharing our faith. We can even hesitate in prayer. At times I hesitate to pray because of the hard work involved in prayer. It takes a decision to jump in wholeheartedly in order to overcome our hesitation. And it takes a recognition and acceptance of the love and mercy of God.
When I hesitate, I fail to embrace the truth that I am jumping into the arms of my infinitely loving and powerful Father. I can forget that his ears are eager to hear my thoughts, my praise, my fears, my failures, my requests, my longings. I can let fear rule, though God’s perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). When I embrace the love of my Father, I can then “jump in” with no hesitation and arms wide open. His love is warmer and more refreshing than my 86 degree pool. It’s not cold or painful. And it’s oh so refreshing and strengthening.
1 Kings 18:21 (NASB)
21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ” How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word.
Proverbs 24:11-12 (MSG)
11 Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help.
12 If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,” will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know— Someone not impressed with weak excuses.
Hebrews 10:19 (MSG)
19 So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
Thankfully, God did not hesitate to help me!
Romans 8:31-33 (MSG)
31 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose?
32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?
33 And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?
Jump on in. The water’s just right. It’s delightful. It’s perfect.