Every summer, thousands of crazy and slightly mentally unstable college students decide to forego sound economic advice and spend two to three months working with youth of all ages at various summer camps. I am one of those crazy and, admittedly, more-than-slightly mentally unstable people. Yes, your beloved and (assumed) favorite columnist spent his summer playing ridiculous games, rolling down hills, shoving more grapes in his mouth than middle-schoolers, and living with a stuffed-animal. And yes, I’m one of those crazy students who comes back with “this is what happened to me at camp” stories. And yes, I’m going to share one of them with you right now. And yes, I do quite enjoy parallelism in my writing.
Anywho, whilst at camp this summer, I had the opportunity to become a genuine certified lifeguard. Of course, this ended up being quite the task, due especially to the imposing stature and intimidating personality of my certification instructor who, quite honestly, could probably bench more than me . . . and she was a woman! But after nearly drowning while holding a brick on my stomach, swimming a crap-ton, and hypothetically saving my friends about 50 times, I can now say I am certified to save you should you ever drown in my general vicinity while I’m holding a lifeguard tube.
The point of that story is this: As I was guarding the lives of young children one day, I observed a young’un, probably 3 or 4 years old, preparing to jump off the diving board. Now before you go off on some humanistic rant on why I let a 4-year-old jump off the diving board, let me tell you that his dad was waiting for him in the pool. In fact, his dad is really the fulcrum on which this entire story balances. You see, this little guy moseyed up to the edge, took a couple practice bounces, and just jumped right off that diving board into the arms of his waiting father. And once he got to his dad, he was NOT going to let go of him. As I sat there, watching this progress and ignoring the other swimmers/potential drowners, I noticed how this young child gripped his dad, knowing, without a doubt in his mind, that his dad was going to keep him safe. In an unknown, scary position, this young child held on to what he knew would keep his head above water – what he knew would keep him from harm and lead him to safety.
Watching this, I was reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6, which states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.” When we are in unsettling, nerve-wracking, pant-wetting situations, we will naturally reach out to that in which we find comfort. But what is that for you? Just like this toddler gripping his father, knowing that he would keep him safe, do we go to our Heavenly Father, who has promised us safety, love, and good in our lives? All of us face situations where we need help, situations where we realize that our own strength and power are just not going to get the job done. Jesus has promised us that if we trust Him and forget about worrying, about what makes sense to us, then He will set our paths straight. And if I remember right, that straight path is the one that leads to eternal life. Turns out we don’t have to do it all by ourselves after all.
Alex Updike, Columnist