“I. Do. Not. Want. To. Swim.”
He mouthed the words dramatically and emphatically because he was looking up at me behind the second story viewing window at his swim lesson. It was both heartbreaking and hilarious. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up as the teacher (who could actually use words) coaxed him back to the water.
He complied. And not three minutes later, he gave me a big thumbs up back through the glass.
Full recovery. A swim lesson success.
Later, as I crouched down beside the three year old to dry his hair and help him with his shoes, I glanced upward as if to give God a thumbs up. Like: today is okay. I’m good. Things are under control.
I had taken a friend’s son to his swim lesson. That was two and a half months ago. The scenery has changed a lot since then.
At the time, I had been mouthing a lot of words up at the Lord with all the clarity and emotion I could muster. As though He might not be aware. As though He might misunderstand if I did not enunciate properly.
I. Do. Not. Like. This.
I. Want. That.
I. Do. Not. Want. This.
I. Do. Not. Want. To. Wait.
Do. Not. Leave. Me. Here.
And, truth be told, after a year like that, I’ve been trying really hard to give God lots of thumbs up these days. I’m good! Really! I’ve got this. Thanks for watching. Trying to dismiss Him from worry as though that is my job.
As though He’s up there watching.
I’ve caught myself treating God like a spectator, staring down through a thick, second story window. But as I squint up to see Him, He keeps splashing me in the face.
As close to me as that chlorine-covered three-year-old was that day in June.
Because He’s not up there watching. He’s right here with us. He has been all along.
In the wet hair and splashing hands of a friend’s son. In the “come with us” invitations. In the doubled-over laughter. In the friends who scoot over and make room. In the quiet walks and the loud living rooms.
He’s right here.
In the shifting seasons. In the brand new. In the comfortably familiar. In all the answered prayers. In the still-unanswered ones, too.
Not up there waiting for a thumbs-up. But right here knowing our heart’s cries. When we mourn. When we rejoice. When we wonder. When we rest.
When courage hurls us into the water.
When courage lifts our head to heaven and admits our fear.
May you feel that splash of gratefulness when He makes Himself known. May you know His comfort when you cannot understand His ways. May you know His peace when you do not want to swim. May you know His joy when you plunge beneath that water. May you know His rest from the pressure of proving you’re okay. The world demands a thumbs up. Our God does not. May you know His freedom in whatever your season.
May you see the empty chair behind that second story window.
And remember that ours is a God who has come down.
And may you feel the breath of heaven on that upturned face of yours.
[Read about God coming down: Exodus 19:20; Numbers 11:25; Isaiah 64:3; Matthew 1:23; John 6:41-58; Hebrews 4:14-16]