From time to time I hear a story that is too good to keep to myself. This is from a good friend of mine, David Gray.
He has a number of other great stories and insights you can read here by clicking here: David’s Notes
I Knew You Would Come
It was a typical gorgeous summer afternoon in Cleveland: bright blue skies, high temperatures, and restless kids. The kids were too rambunctious to be inside so we decided to do what so many people did that day – head to the pool. Within a few short minutes we had the van fully loaded and we were trekking to the haven known as Tinsley Park.
Jacob was our youngest child (at the time). Though he was a rather quiet and unassuming little guy, he had an odd, audacious confidence about him. Nothing seemed to intimidate or frighten him.
This day proved to be no different. It seems Jacob had no intention of hanging out in the shallow end with mom and dad. Apparently he saw all the other folks jumping off the diving board and decided it looked like something he also wanted to do, indeed, something he had to do despite being only four. So, with the confidence of a seasoned swimmer, Jacob climbed the ladder of the diving board that would lead to plunging into the deep end of the pool.
Thankfully the teen lifeguard was astute enough to notice our dauntless little man making his way up the ladder while fully secured in the impenetrable armor of … his arm-floaties. This was enough of a violation of protocol for the pool employee to warn Jacob that he could not use the diving board if he was still in arm-floaties. I suspect that for most four year olds that stern warning would translate into “you are too young to use the diving board,” but not so for our valiant munchkin. He got down from the diving board, walked over to the grassy area and, like any law-abiding citizen would, proceeded to remove his arm-floaties in order to be compliant with his new found regulation.
Without the bright orange “floatie warning” flashing for the lifeguard to see, Jacob the conqueror silently ascended the diving board ladder once again, this time without resistance.
Being the doting and attentive father that I was, I had no clue that Jacob was perched on top of the diving board preparing to … drown. My wife, Kendra, was anxiously waiting for our other son, David, to return unscathed from the boy’s restroom and so was also unaware of Jacob’s gallantry. I’m sure she assumed I had my ever-watchful eye on him. When David emerged and appeared to be safe and sound, she turned to face the glimmering water of the pool. At precisely that moment, from the far end of the complex, Kendra’s peripheral vision caught a brief glimpse of our youngest child catapulting himself into the deep end of the pool … without floaties, and apparently no one aware.
Suddenly Kendra was endowed with the speed and strength of the bionic woman (nah nah nah nah naaah!). She launched herself from the far corner of the pool toward the deep end where our youngest child was soon to meet his demise. With the supernatural abilities that only a mother possesses, Kendra reached Jacob within a split second of his descent into the deep. In a singular movement of one last stroke and dive combined, she scooped him up from five feet below the surface … only to see his undaunted face smiling from ear to ear. After spitting and sputtering for a moment he looked at his mom and with the confidence only a four-year-old could understand he declared, “I knew you’d come!”
This story is true, albeit slightly exaggerated.
Many times when we think of rearing children we think of teaching, training or disciplining them. But, possibly one of the most important things we can do for our kids is to model Christ for them.
Whenever I think of this day I am reminded of God’s amazing grace toward us, toward me. Jesus rescued me from my mess. I was drowning in my own sin and Jesus plunged himself into my world for one reason, to pull me up from the deep. And He continues to rescue me. Most of the time the mess I’m in is of my own making, the result of my own bad choices and my own foolish decisions. Jumping ahead without thinking things through or delaying out of fear. Jesus doesn’t stand on the sidelines and watch. No, He jumps in with me. And often I find myself reflectively acknowledging, “I knew you’d come.” Then somehow through it all, Jesus takes my mess and turns it into a message.
Sociologists say it’s common for people to get their perception of God through the lens of their parental figures, especially their father figures. If dad is caring, patient and concerned then children will believe God has those same characteristics. And the opposite holds true when a father is harsh, judgmental or absent. This is our great calling as parents. Not to take the place of Christ, but to point our kids to Christ and display for them what He is like. We cannot prevent all the pain they may encounter. But, we can love them unconditionally and display the character of Christ for them. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:1-2).