In January, our family had a weekend off in our church visit schedule; what’s more, it was a three day weekend for the kids. Stacy and I weighed our options and decided to surprise them with a trip to visit the Ark Encounter. We loaded up the van with our bags packed and began the four and a half hour drive to Kentucky.
The Ark Encounter is amazing and if you haven’t gone (and the drive is reasonable) I highly recommend it! Our experience was only made more authentic by the downpour of rain. And while the exhibits within the Ark were wonderful reminders of God’s mercy, it was an evening at our hotel’s indoor pool where I found my biggest lesson.
Full transparency — there are days, even weeks on this journey that makes me feel like I have no idea what to do next. Sometimes it feels like I’m in over my head. Maybe it’s been a few weeks since we had a new partner pledge support? Maybe we had to reschedule a church visit or appointment because of an unexpected circumstance?
As much as the kids enjoyed the Ark, they were most excited by the pool. At approximately 12′ by 24′, this little indoor puddle of joy was a warm, chlorinated oasis in the middle of the cold, rainy January outside. Now Liam is fully confident in the water, while Sammy hesitates till she gets comfortable. However, Garrett (just shy of four years old) is a newbie and has only previously enjoyed the water with his arms tightly clung around either me or Stacy. This was the trip that changed that forever.
Where am I going with this, you might be asking? Well, I’ll tell you.
Garrett began by floating off the bottom step while gripping the metal railing for security. The water would just start to touch his chin and he’d clamber back up to the safety of the steps. He could see his brother and sister laughing and splashing, and he wanted to be out there too…but the water was over his head. I had been playing with the other two while Garrett had seemed content to linger on the stairs, but I could tell he wanted more. I gave him my attention and reached out to him, asking if he wanted to jump to me. Excitedly, and without question, he leapt off the step and into my arms. I encouraged him and he immediately wanted to do it again. We did this for a very long time. He would jump and I would catch him. Throughout his jumps, I had gradually drifted further and further from the steps. He realized this and would motion for me to come closer, but I would reply that it was okay, that he could make the jump. Now, there was no way for him to reach me without fully submerging beneath the water where I would then catch him and raise him back up. Garrett scared himself a few times, coming up coughing and wide-eyed; but no matter what, he kept jumping. I was well aware that I was pushing him to make ever-more-challenging leaps of faith, but I assured him that I was always there to catch him — what an exercise in trust!
This may be a simple concept, but it hit me hard in the weeks after the trip as I contemplated how this experience applied to my life. Most often, for us to see God work, it means letting go of the safety and security of whatever it is we cling to for comfort and trusting that He’s waiting for us just beneath the surface of the unknown. It’s in these times that we are in over our heads that we are right where God wants us to be. We either reach for God and allow Him to lift us or we succumb to the struggle and return to the old ways that seem safe and secure.
While there are struggles on this journey, I look at the path I was on and the life God called me out of to follow Him. There is not another place I would rather be than in over my head.