I watched from a distance as Elijah intently eyed the “big boy” going up the steps to the top of the waterslide. Elijah had been gleefully going down the smaller slides at the indoor water park on our Iowa trip repeatedly. Each time he climbed the steps, I watched as he contemplated continuing up to the bigger tube slide.
As he stood at the bottom of the steps, I called up to him, “If you want to go on the big slide, Mama will catch you!” He sent a long, serious glance my way and I could see his wheels turning. He was scared. He’d never done this slide before. It was enclosed and twisted and he couldn’t see the bottom. He had no idea what he was jumping into and couldn’t predict the outcome. After a moment of contemplation, he began to slowly climb the steps to the bigger slide. His life jacket was bulky and awkward and slowed him down considerably.
When he reached the top, he paused again. Staring down the gaping maw of the waterslide was probably more intimidating than he expected. Again, as he stood there I called up to him, “Mommy will catch you, Elijah!”
He climbed into the slide and sat down. He remained still for half a minute. I could see his tiny elbows poking out the top of the slide, but he couldn’t see me. Water was rushing around him and he had to hold on tight in order to stay in one place. It was loud and a little bit dark inside the slide. I was grateful that there were not many other children around. Had someone else wanted to go down the slide, he would surely have been holding up the line.
Once again, I called up to him, this time through the slide itself, “If you want to go down the slide, Mommy is right here. I will catch you!” After a short pause he yelled back, ”No! Uh-uh!” He continued to sit at the top of the slide and then after just a few seconds, I heard as he scooted forward and began to slide.
He came around the corner quickly, the look on his face a mixture of glee and terror. He splashed into me and threw his tiny arms around my neck.
“Whoa. Scary,“ he said.
“You did it! That was awesome!” I replied. “Want to do it again?”
And so we moved on to other slides. Every once in a while I caught him stealing a glance at the big yellow slide.
The next day we went to the waterpark again and I watched as Elijah made his way to the slide that had so terrified him the day before. He climbed the steps, paused at the top long enough for me to call up and tell him I’d catch him, and went down again. When I caught him, he immediately wanted to go again. No long drawn-out decision process; no look of terror on his face. He knew I was there and he trusted me to catch him.
As I thought of this experience, I realized I could learn a lot from my toddler. I began to liken this story to my own life. Often God is calling us to do big scary things. Things that are fun and terrifying at the same time. As we stand there contemplating our next step, ready to jump into the unknown, we may hear his voice, “I’m right here. I know you can’t see me. I know pushing off is terrifying, but I promise I’ll catch you.”
“No!”, we yell. “Uh-uh. I’m not doing that. I’m not ______________ enough. (Insert your own personal roadblocks here: smart, skinny, confident, talented, etc.)
“I’m right here. I’ll catch you.”
And so we muster up the courage to take that plunge into the unknown. We fling ourselves out into the world and with eyes closed we grasp for His outstretched hands. He catches us, comforts us and soothes our fears. And the next day we find our fear has diminished. Our trust in our loving Father has increased and we understand that He is there to help and encourage us. To help us grow and reach our potential. We can’t become the people He has designed us to be unless we dive into the unknown and become familiar with the act of wrapping our arms around His neck and holding on for dear life.
What is your big yellow slide, my friend? What scares you right now? This could be anything: a career move, trying to adopt, finding the courage to be a stay-at-home Mama for another exhausting day, sharing your work (whatever it may be), trying something new or starting back into something old.
You're terrified and excited all at once.
Your Father in Heaven is there, waiting with open arms to catch you. Take the plunge.