I was seven years old, on a very high, high diving board looking down. Nothing seemed more distant than the water below. The atmosphere around me seemed eerily still and dangerous. I was terrified.
Shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples decided to go fishing, stayed out all night, and caught nothing! Now what? Fishing was the one thing they could fall back on during times of crisis. Now, they couldn’t even do that right. The disciples found themselves on their own high diving board looking down into an uncertain future and they were terrified.
Sound familiar? Maybe you are having a high diving board kind of experience. Facing an uncertain future, concerned about situations and problems looming ahead. You too may be feeling terrified.
Standing alone on the high diving board, the options seemed clear. Jumping into the water was foolish. Even if I survived the fall, I would drown in the deep water. The sensible thing to do was quit. Turn around, get off that board, and climb down the ladder to mother earth and safety.
Maybe the disciples should give up before they too faced persecution and a cross?
But facing high diving board experiences is often where God appears and miracles happen.
“At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, ‘Fellows, have you caught any fish?’ Then he said, ‘Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!’” (John 21:4,5)
What? Excuse me? Were the disciples, many experienced fishermen, throwing the net on the wrong side of the boat? Was Jesus sharing a new fishing secret? Fishing boats aren’t very wide. Whether you throw the net on the left or the right side of the boat should make no difference—or does it?
Was it the reassuring and confident tone of the voice on the beach that persuaded the disciples to defy common sense and throw their nets on the other side of the boat?
What happened next? John 21:6 says, “They couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.” What was once frustrating and terrifying was now an opportunity for a miracle.
As I stood on the diving board alone, terrified, and ready to give up, there was movement in the water below. Someone was swimming to the very spot I was to jump to. Wait a minute! That someone was my father. With a smile on his face and hands held high, he shouted, “Everything is okay. Jump!”
The reassuring and confident presence of my dad in the water below persuaded me to defy my fear and jump into the unknown.
What happened next? Flying through the air was amazing. Upon hitting the water, strong hands grabbed hold and propelled me toward the surface. Within seconds after my head popped above the water, Dad was beside me with a big grin on his face. “Well, how was it?”
“Wow!” I replied. “Can I do it again?” What was once frightening was now a thrill ride. What changed?
- Lesson 1 – We all face the equivalent of the “High Dive”: The feeling of being trapped by our own misjudgments or by circumstances beyond our control.
- Lesson 2 – Often, when we least expect it a reassuring and confident presence appears to offer encouragement to try a new direction.
- Lesson 3 – Our willingness to listen to the reassuring presence and take a leap of faith is often rewarded.
If the disciples had not listened to the voice urging them against all common sense to throw the net on the other side of the boat they would have missed the excitement of catching a net full of fish.
If I had given into my fear and ignored my dad’s encouragement to jump, I would have missed the adventure of diving off the high diving board.
What about you? Maybe you are feeling on the edge of outer space with the safety of earth far, far below? If you look carefully, you too will sense a reassuring presence with hands held high and a smiling face. Maybe it’s time for you to throw your nets to the other side or take a leap of faith. Maybe it’s time to trust in the voice gently whispering in your ear. “Everything is okay. Jump!”
About Larry Davies
Larry Davies is currently the Lynchburg, Virginia District Superintendent for 89 United Methodist Churches. He has been the pastor of small, medium, and large churches. For many years, Larry managed and trained sales people in the automobile business. He is also the author of Live the Light: Five Weeks to a Light that Shines and three other books. Larry is the founder of Sowing Seeds of Faith, a worldwide prayer ministry and writing ministry, www.SowingSeedsofFaith.com. His columns and blog posts appear in several newspapers, magazines, and websites. Larry is a graduate of Virginia Tech and received his Master of Divinity at Duke University. Mell, Larry’s wife, recently retired from Concord Elementary School. Larry’s oldest son Stephen is married to Brandy, and they have a one-year-old bundle of energy, Jackson. Larry’s daughter Lisa is engaged to be married to Bobby. He and Mell also have a lively but older Springer Spaniel named Daisy.