Before I knew how to swim, swimming pools scared me to death.
I’ve always been vertically challenged; I was a very, very short kid in lower elementary…. You can imagine my terror when I realized people would voluntarily jump into six, ten, or even TWELVE feet of water!
I’ll never forget my first day of swim lessons. My parents, older sister, and I were met at a pool by a man in our church who was a swim instructor. As we walked over to where our lessons would be, I couldn’t help but notice other boys and girls my age jumping into the deep end. They were having a blast diving, splashing, and screaming as I looked on—absolutely terrified.
The swim instructor noticed the direction of my gaze as well as the look on my face. He pointed out to me how much fun the other kids were having, adding that I’d be right there with them in no time. “Nice try,” I thought. “Nothing you say to me will convince me that what they’re doing is actually fun.”
All too soon, it was time to get in the water for our lesson. We walked down the steps into the shallow end where our instructor explained what we’d be doing that day: he was going to teach us to float on our backs. His only instruction? “Trust me. You have to trust me. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
He held me by the hand and began to lead me out to deeper water. My heart was racing. Very soon, the water was too deep for me to touch the bottom of the pool. I was petrified.
The instructor helped me lay back on the surface of the water. I hated it. Water rushed into my ears and I could no longer hear a thing. He had his hand on my back supporting me and began walking down the lane of the pool. He had instructed me to gently kick with my feet and paddle with my hands while I floated on my back. As I began kicking and paddling, I remember thinking, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. I’ve got this.”
Then everything changed. I had been so entranced that I was actually floating that I didn’t realize my instructor’s hand was gone. Nothing was supporting me! Immediately panic set in. I freaked out, tried to sit up in an attempt to find my instructor, and began to sink right away. Then, out of nowhere, my instructor grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me up out of the water. Seeing the sheer terror on my face, he began laughing, telling me he had never left, and had only removed his hand. He was still there, walking right next to me as I swam.
This episode repeated more times than I’d care to admit during many more lessons. I’ll be honest, I had major trust issues…. Deep ends weren’t supposed to be fun!
Eventually, I got the hang of it once I learned to calm down and trust my instructor. And now, I love to swim! All thanks to my very patient swim instructor.
On one of my last lessons, my instructor sat down with me to congratulate me on the progress I’d made. He pointed out that none of this would have been possible had I not left my comfort zone, gotten into the deep end, and trusted him.
I have to wonder how many times God looks at us like my swim instructor looked at me, knowing great things are waiting for us if we’ll just follow Him out of our comfort zones.
All throughout the Bible, we see examples of men and women God used greatly—after they followed Him out of their comfort zones. Men and women like Abraham, Moses, David, Esther, Mary, the disciples, and Paul.
What is it that God’s asking you to do? Where is He asking you to follow by faith? What is it that’s keeping you in your comfort zone?
Here’s a few thoughts I’d challenge you to remember:
God always has your best interest in mind.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. — Jeremiah 29:11
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. — Romans 8:28
God is pleased when we follow Him by faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him. — Hebrews 11:6
God will always be with you, leading you.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. — Proverbs 3:6
God doesn’t want you to be held back in fear!
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:7
I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. — Psalm 34:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. — Psalm 23:4
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? — Psalm 27:1