I heard on the radio this morning that part of disaster training is plunging the participants into a pool of water attached to a heavy sled. They are taught to free themselves, remove their visors and then wait. To orient themselves, they are taught to relax and watch the bubbles before they begin to swim. Bubbles always rise. Then they follow the bubbles to the surface.
I wish I had known this in the 5th grade. 3 times a week, I would go the YWCA to take swimming lessons. I already knew how to swim, but it was during 6th hour and swimming was more fun than whatever I would have been doing at school. They taught us to swim, dive, haul people out of the water, etc. It was kind of like a junior lifeguard program. Part of the diving was learning how to go off the low board and the not-so-low board but there was one other board there too.
See, here's the deal. I don't really have a fear of heights. Falling is a different story. But peer pressure has an interesting effect on me. I either find much pride in being the only resistor or I fall willingly into the crowd, another lemming perched on the precipice of disaster. This day, it was option number two.
I'd been diving off board number one and two for most of the weeks we'd been going to the Y. Tuck your head, hold your hands up, roll off the board with just a slight jump. Got it. But board number you've-gotta-be-kidding-me was a no go. Until, everyone I went to class with called out "Let's all go!" One by one they lined up, willing sacrifices to the high board god. One by one they climbed up the ladder and somehow, I found myself with a very bad case of team spirit. "OK, I'll do it!" Cheers went up, little legs went up, we all went up the very tall ladder.
Once I reached the top, there was no going back. Too many behind me, too much pride to sit and cry, so I walked out to the end, tucked my head, put up my arms, didn't look down and just jumped. It was like slow motion, I heard someone yelling..."tuck in, tuck in", I felt myself falling, and I opened my eyes just in time to realize I was going to do the world's biggest belly flop. POW!!!
I hit the water flat. Everything stung. I couldn't breathe. Somehow, I rolled over, saw the lights (and not only the ones in my head) and floated up. I didn't swim, at least I don't think I did. I couldn't move really. I got to the edge without help, I guess I was moving at this point. No lifeguards had jumped in. And I sat.
I can proudly say, I jumped off the high board that day. I can also say, I have never done it since and won't ever.
But what if I had been prepared? What if someone had actually taught me how and how not to jump off the high board? What if someone had told me to tuck into a ball or go feet first and once I hit the water, to watch for the bubbles?
How much of life do I run into, unprepared, get the wind knocked out of me and never try again?
I'm much less likely to do that now, but it doesn't mean I don't. I think my walk as a christian has been much the same way. I dive in head first, belly flop, stop breathing and retire. The problem is, I dive in without reading the manual. God has given me a great head's up in His word. Everything I ever need to know is in there. But I have to stop, look, study, listen and prepare...and then jump knowing the leap is a leap of faith.
So here are my prayers.
"When I called you, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted." Psalm 138:3
"When you pass thru the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass thru the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk thru the fire, you will be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of the, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6
He knows when to jump, which direction the bubbles are going, and I'll keep my eyes on Him.