I recently took my kids to an indoor water park. For this of you who know me, you know that this was a feat all in itself. Why, you know my lack of excitement for anything having to do with water combined with my crippling fear of large crowds made for an uncomfortable weekend to say the least. Did I mention we were in water with hundreds of other people, sharing their germs etc, YUK. However, I knew it was something my kids would love so I just went for it and tried to make the most of it.
It was a place neither of them had ever been before. In fact, they’d never been to anything even remotely like it, so it was quite overwhelming for them in the beginning. I had visions of lounging by the wave pool in a reclining chair while they splashed around gleefully but this was NOT the case. Because this whole experience was new, they wanted me to be with them every second of the day. I kept assuring them, “you’ll be fine!! Daddy’s just gonna chill right here in this chair” but it was not to be as they insisted that I accompany them the whole time.
So one of the first things we did was get in the wave pool. When we first waded into the water it was calm and serene. Moms and dads held their babies close and let them float around in their life jackets and floaties. All the children around us splashed each other and played “Marco polo” in a carefree fashion. I thought to myself, “this is not so bad. These kids will be fine” and I started toward my comfy little beach chair when I was startled by an apocalyptic sound.
There was a loud, really loud buzzing noise followed by the piercing screams of the children at play in the wave pool. I didn’t know what was about to happen but it was the same reaction I would’ve expected if Luke Bryan showed up for a concert. Nonetheless, this stopped me in my tracks and I turned around to check on my kids. They were faced in the opposite direction as the water began to swirl and stir beneath them. At first the pool began to manufacture little, manageable waves. Excited at this new element, my kids went for deeper waters. I just kind of observed from a distance.
The waves kept getting bigger and bigger and BIGGER. Suddenly the look of joy on my children’s faces became a look of sheer terror. The once kid friendly wave pool had become a battlefield. Kids were being tossed and flipped and pulled under the water. The sound of joyous carefree play became shrieks and crys for help. “Daddy” I heard my little girl scream and I ran for her with no abandon leaving a trail of dizzy and confused toddlers in my wake. I finally got to her and she at once latched on to me.
She was terrified and began to cry when she wasn’t swallowing big gulps of the pool water and coughing and gagging as a result. What started out as seemingly innocent fun had become a nightmare in a matter of seconds. I grabbed my little girl and held her close to my chest and above the water. I tried to comfort her but in the moment she was inconsolable so we waded back out of the pool and gathered ourselves once again. I decided to use this a teaching moment. I said to my kids, “ok, see we’re fine, I know it was scary but let’s go back out there and show these waves what we’re made of.” My general Patton-esque speech was met with looks of disdain from my kids.
Finally, I was able to talk them into going back out there. At first they were skeptical but I stayed behind them with every step. We waded deeper and deeper into the pool and the waves got higher as we went. They met each wave with a new confidence and looked behind them for my approval. I applauded them and encouraged them all the while to go deeper because I said to them, “I’m here, I’m not gonna leave you or allow anything to hurt you.” If they got knocked down by a wave I quickly scooped them up, raised them out of the water and comforted them. I immediately put them back in the tempest and let them see for themselves that there was really nothing to be afraid of, daddy was here.
Eventually, The once terrified kids began to navigate the rough terrain and were once again playing. The environment that used to terrify them became their playground. It was a process but nevertheless they were aware that their father was always with them, would never leave them and this allowed them to be carefree even as they were being tossed about by the waves.
God does the same for us. There are tons of verses and examples in The Bible where he says he is always with us. Genesis 28:15 says “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.” And yet another one is Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be Strong and Courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you or forsake you.” Even Jesus says “Surely, I am with you always…” but even if it never said it in the Bible this is something I’ve come to see happening in my own life!
God used this time at the water park to speak to me about my own life and current set of situations. Even when it’s dark, even when I’m unsure of what’s about to happen, even when I’m afraid and being torn apart by the “waves” I know my Heavenly Father is with me and he won’t leave me, he’s promised! It may be a process and it may take a little time but he’s taking these times in life that used to paralyze and terrify me and with renewed confidence he’s turning what seems to be a disaster into a playground. Anybody else wanna play?