The Big Kid's Slide
Enjoying my lunchbreak by "my little lake", I cannot begin to tell you how peaceful I felt while sitting there. With my back to the parking lot, the lake greeted me with sparkling ripples. The midday sun warmed my body as I took in the beauty and the sounds of the local inhabitants. Ten feet in front of me, two yellow butterflies danced playfully together at the water's edge. A big white bird (either an egret or heron, I think) flew down from a tree across the lake, landing on a limb jutting about two feet out of the water. After a few minutes, the great white bird lifted his wings, as if to capture the heat from the sun. Perhaps his wings were wet and he was merely drying them....but no matter, it made for a calm, yet breathtaking picture.
I could hear the rustling of something coming from the woods behind me. I thought it might be one of the big black crows which frequent the skies over the lake. I thought I had seen one earlier, perched in a tree branch behind and above me. Then later on, I heard a bird calling from the spot where I first heard the rustling. The crow must have heard it, too, because he cawed a reply. A few small wrens flitted from branch-to-branch among the oak trees. I felt a little envious of them, having the whole day to do as they pleased, enjoying their freedom just a wee bit too much if you ask me.....lol.
Before I had arrived, a turtle had been sunning himself on the culvert pipe at one end of the lake, but as I approached, he dove into the water. A few minutes later, he re-emerged and swam closer to the picnic table where I was sitting, hanging around, I suppose, to see if some of my lunch would be thrown his way. We have strict orders not to throw food into the lake, however, as the ever-present hungry alligators might be watching and waiting. I felt a little guilty for not feeding him.....but, oh well.
While I was enjoying this magnificently peaceful escape from the real world, I began thinking about what a friend of mine said about taking his gaggle of girls to spook alley.....how he seemed to enjoy it so much. The thought came to me that God must feel the same way when His children find themselves in fear-filled situations. It is not that God is sadistic or anything like that but merely that He knows there is nothing to be afraid of.....and that we will run to Him for protection from those things which cause us so much panic. I believe He is closest to us when we need Him the most. It's like He's watching us as we scream with terror in our hearts, knowing there is nothing to fear and hoping we will search for Him when we realize we cannot handle things on our own......just like a bunch of screaming girls being scared out of their wits in spook alley. My friend knew there was nothing for those girls to be afraid of and probably felt a sort of thrill when they returned to him.....where they felt safe.
My friend's story reminds me of the time I tackled my first trip down the "big kid's" slide on the playground of my elementary school. My daddy had taken me there as a treat during summer vacation but I found myself terrified of the huge slide towering above me. I could feel my legs starting to tremble as I slowly climbed the ladder, but somehow I managed to make it to the landing and sit down.
Daddy was standing way down there on the ground, just waiting, looking up at me with this big smile on his face. Yes, I was scared, but I didn't want to let my daddy down. He had so much confidence in me. He kept telling me I could do it....that I was a big kid now. I sat there, frozen.....wondering how he could be so calm, knowing I could break my neck and kill myself if I fell over the edge on the way down. I know now the fall would not have killed me, but at the time I felt like it would. I remember having the impression that he was being cruel, expecting me to go through with it. Didn't he care if I got hurt or not? Well, after what seemed like forever, fear overtook me and I spread my arms open toward him and told him I wanted to get down.
He walked over to the slide to where I was sitting, reached his right hand up toward me and said, "Here, hold onto my hand."
I looked at him, trying to figure out what to do next. I couldn't tell him "no", because somewhere deep inside, I trusted him to know what was the best thing to do....or at least I thought I did. All I knew was that I was too scared to push off the landing on my own, and I did so want to be like the big kids who looked like they were having so much fun. So, I put my little, frail, white hand inside his big, tan, calloused one and holding on for dear life, down that slide I went! And yes, I screamed, but they were screams of delight. I had done it! But, not without his help. I was so thrilled, I ran back around to the ladder. This time, however, I climbed a little faster...a little surer of myself. When I reached the top, I held out my hand to him and said, "Hold my hand, Daddy! Let's do it again!"
So, that's the way it went.....down the slide, back up the ladder and down the slide, again and again. After a couple of trips while holding his hand, he then suggested that he just walk beside me as I slid down. Once again, I froze, unsure of myself. I looked at him, then said, "Okay, but promise me you'll stay right next to me all the way down." To which he replied, "Don't you worry. I'm not going to let you fall."
I couldn't get enough of that big kid's slide....and after about an hour, just before time to go home, I climbed up the ladder and sat on the landing. I looked at Daddy just before I pushed off and broke out in the biggest grin ever as I waved at him where he was sitting.....several yards away on the teacher's bench. I didn't know how I could have felt so scared before.
And so that's how I learned to conquer the big kid's slide. When I was the most afraid, Daddy was closest to me. He came when I called out to him for help, holding my hand until I was no longer afraid. I was so grateful for him being there and that I was able to put my trust in him. Then the less I needed him, the farther away he was. Even though he was no longer holding my hand, I still knew he was watching over me from a distance.
I believe our Father in Heaven is like that......closest to us when we need Him the most, but allowing us to encounter what we feel are fearful situations.....until we seek Him out. And He knows if we do not seek Him, we will never experience the thrill of the ride. Gee, it's a continuous cycle, don't you think...encountering fearful things and then overcoming them with God's help?
With my daddy's help, the thrill of the big kid's slide gave me the courage to tackle other things......like overcoming the fear of learning to ride my first bike. I was afraid then, too.....but Daddy was there to catch me if I fell, at least in the beginning. But, that's another story for another time.
"For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee,
Fear not; I will help thee."
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