Early afternoon sunlight warmed Rachel’s body as she lay on the plastic chaise lounge near the pool at her apartment complex. The day was straight out of a daydream, with a slight breeze stirring the leaves of the tree behind her. In the distance, through a veil of drowsiness, she could hear the faint sounds of a radio announcer advising there would be highs in the mid 80's with no chance of rain.
“Such perfection,” she thought, and yet she was not at peace.
It was a rare thing for Rachel to have a day off mid-week, and she was taking full advantage of the empty pool area, deserted except for a young man and little girl who had just arrived. Feeling the warm sun against her skin, she breathed in the coconut scent of her tanning oil. She was determined to focus on nothing more than the rich orange glow that filled her closed eyelids beneath her sunglasses.
However, in spite of how hard she willed peaceful thoughts to take over, her thoughts turned instead to the dilemma she was facing. It seemed inescapable. Since accepting the position of teaching the middle school girls’ class at her church, Rachel couldn’t shake the feeling that she was taking on more than she could handle. She had tried praying for God’s will, but couldn’t get past the fear that she wasn’t the right one to be leading them. Her walk with Christ was strengthening every day, but a nagging self-doubt filled her soul. There had to be someone, somewhere, that was smarter than she, more qualified.
Sighing in frustration, Rachel pushed those thoughts from her mind with force. This was her day off, and she was determined to relax and enjoy it.
“Come on sweetie, you can do it,” a man’s voice broke into Rachel’s haze. “I know you can. I’m right here, I’ll catch you.”
Peeking out from beneath her sunglasses, Rachel smiled at the scene before her. The timid young girl had managed to climb out to the end of the diving board, and was peering anxiously down at the young man standing shoulder deep in the water below.
“Come on, just jump. I’m right here, I promise I’ll catch you," the father urged.
The girl, who couldn’t have been more than four years old, stood firm, stubbornly shaking her head but not saying a word.
“Emma, I’m not going anywhere. You just have to jump and trust me.”
Emma stuck a nervous finger in her mouth and edged closer to the end of the board. Rachel could tell she wanted to, but fear of the unknown was holding her back. Small beads of perspiration had popped up on her shoulders. The sun was hot, and Rachel knew how inviting the cool blue of the water must look to her.
Rachel thought about the typical scene, and how it was replayed thousands of times every summer across the world. Sincere words of comfort, of strength. How frustrating for the father, knowing how much their child would enjoy the experience if they would only trust him enough to let go of the end of the board.
“Just trust me. I promise I’ll catch you. I would never let you fall.”
Rachel’s eyes flew open and she felt her heart quicken. Her Father. Her Father was waiting on her to jump! She had prayed for His will, and yet like a young child, she refused to let go of the end of the board, clinging instead to fears of the unknown. How patiently He must be waiting, knowing the cool refreshing wonderment of following Him would be so much more enjoyable than the hot, ominous fears of her own intimidation.
Eyes wide with wonder, Rachel sat up straight in the lounge chair and bowed her head.
“Thank you Father," she prayed. “Thank you for showing me this, all through the eyes of a child. Thank you for not giving up on me, but for relentlessly pursuing me, even in the midst of my own self doubt.”
Eyes still closed, she leaned back and smiled to herself as she considered the Father who was waiting to catch her with open arms. She knew He would never push her, but was waiting patiently for her to trust Him enough to jump. And she was going to. She smiled even more when she heard the splash and giggle of a young girl learning the same thing.
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