By Dan Oliva
A few weeks ago, our family flew to Southern California for some time away. Our goal was sunshine, relaxation and general all-around distraction from reality. For the most part, we succeeded. Eventually, of course, we had to come back – you know how that goes.
We crammed all kinds of adventures into our vacation, but one of the family favorites was our day at SeaWorld. Have you been to Sea World recently? The last time I went was on our honeymoon and for some reason, at the time, I didn’t find the whales and dolphins to be that memorable. This time, however, it quickly became a highlight. The orca show, the sea lions begging for fish, the bat rays you could hand feed – we loved it all.
After our day at Sea World, we went back to our hotel and what did the kids want to do? Head right down to the beach! So off we went, down the street, down the steps, across the sand and into the waves. But something was wrong – I found myself unable to wade beyond knee-deep water. The day before, I was out splashing up to my chest – what had changed?
As our kids went out further, leaving me in the shallows, I realized what was going on. We had just spent the day being reminded of what swam beneath the surface of the ocean. We saw killer whales with sharp teeth, stingrays with barbed tails, lionfish with poisonous spines and moray eels with powerful jaws and bad attitudes. Oh, did I mention the sharks? Lots of sharks – we even walked through an underwater tube, watching the huge sharks watching us back. Hundreds and hundreds of big, pointy teeth.
So there I was, standing in the ocean, trying to wade deeper, convinced that death awaited beneath the surface. The day’s events sparked all kinds of fears in me, but not for our kids. They had seen the same oceanic killers I had seen, yet there they were, splashing deep in the surf. I was envious.
Maybe that is a glimpse of what Jesus meant when he talked about having childlike faith – the ability to dive deep, to splash out into deep waters without a care. The ability to focus only on the now, enjoying the immediate blessings placed before us – even the simple blessings of a frothy wave or a sandy beach. Not concerned about finding more happiness somewhere else, or obsessed with the past or future, but simply being content in real-time.
So many of us, though, are stuck knee-deep. Our worries, our fears, our anxieties; our questions of “what if?” and “why?” and “why not?” paralyze us. The events of the day – or last week, or 10 years ago – hinder us from entering into the moment, from enjoying the gifts God gives us right now. We stand knee-deep, baking in the hot sun, wanting to experience the refreshing waves, yet too afraid to step forward.
Childlike faith – whether we are on a beach, on a mountaintop or in a sanctuary, do we have that kind of faith, that kind of perspective on life?