Flail or Flip

I lived at the pool as a kid. I turned cartwheels from the side of the pool into the water. I performed dives, both forward and backward, from the curved edge of the water. Maddeningly, I could not summon the courage to jump from the diving board. The board was a mere five feet above the surface of the water, but something about it scared me beyond understanding. Maybe it was the uncertainty of how hard to jump on the board to get just the right height. Maybe it was the fear of smacking my head on the solid surface of the board if I miscalculated where to plant my feet. I watched my older brother perform seemingly death-defying tricks everyday–back flips, front flips, gainers, and half-gainers. I was consumed with jealousy and fear.

As the summer came to a close too quickly for any of us carefree kids, I was determined to jump off the diving board. Over the past ten weeks I had only built up the nerve to do what we called a toothpick, which is nothing more than dropping into the water in a toothpick formation–no jumping required. No amount of teasing or shaming from the other daredevils could make me bounce on that concussion-causing board.

We were gathering our belongings for the night, already late for dinner, when I climbed the board one last time. My brother fumed about how much trouble I was going to be in for making us even more late, but I could not get off the board without following through on my goal. I took hesitant steps with a tiny bounce for several run-throughs before I jumped just like I’d seen my brother do a hundred times before. I flipped with all my might. Unfortunately, all my might was apparently not enough to get me fully rotated. I landed on my back with a resounding smack. I sucked in water from the shock of pain and spluttered to the surface, choking. My nasal passages were filled with water, the breath had been knocked out of me, and I was in tears from the pain radiating all along my back … but I had done it!

I don’t even remember if I was punished for making us late for dinner that night. I don’t remember if any other swimmers ridiculed my unsuccessful attempt at a flip off the diving board. Besides trying to coax my lungs into working properly again, all I remember was the complete exhilaration from a goal achieved, a fear conquered. I had jumped off the diving board. I could do anything now.

God called me to start sharing my thoughts on this blog nearly four years ago. I have been attempting to improve my tricks off the side of the pool ever since. My tricks may not be the best tricks around, but every letter, every word, every blog has been an act of obedience in order to bring glory to God. I was content here on the side of the pool, but I have to admit to casting a longing glance every now and then at those flailing themselves headlong off the diving board. They write books … real books. God began to tug at my heart. A book. What on earth would I write about? God didn’t wait long to give me the idea as well as the inspiration for each letter, each word, each sentence. Will He do anything with this book He’s called me to write? I have no idea. My job is only to climb up on that board and bounce … take a few run-throughs … then flail myself off the board. Whether God uses my flailing to complete the flip rotation, landing flawlessly in the water, or I smack my back in an under-rotation, I choose to jump.

I will write. Is it time for you to jump off the board with me? What is the jump God is tugging at your heart to make? The goal is only to jump. What God does with our obedience is entirely up to Him.

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