“Daddy please don’t let go. I am afraid.” These are the words of most little children when their father has them in the pool trying to teach them to swim on their own for the very first time. The Apostles most likely wanted to cry out something similar at the ascension of our Lord…. “Jesus don’t leave us; we’re afraid.” Perhaps we have all cried out to God with similar words at some point in our life. The important thing to remember is that Jesus never ever lets go.
Today allow me to compare the words a father uses as he reassures his child while teaching he/she to swim to the words Jesus uses to reassure us as He teaches us to swim across the pool we call life.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit my oldest son and his wife and two of our granddaughters in Florida. My son was teaching his youngest daughter to swim. I smiled at the scene as it unfolded. It was a scene reminiscent of every father who has taught a child to swim.
First my son gives his daughter some instructions. Next my granddaughter says “Daddy don’t let go, I am afraid.” My son reassures her that he is right there by her side. A look of fear is on her face. His hand is under her belly as he tells her to kick her legs and move her arms. “Please daddy please don’t let go” she pleads. “Honey I want you to try it once on your own” he says. “I am right here” he tells her again to give her confidence.
She kicks and flails her arms as he slowly lowers his hand and she makes her first attempt to swim. As she starts to move on her own, she says “Daddy where are you?” She gets a big gulp of water and starts to sputter and cough. “You’re okay keep going” he says. “You’re doing great.” A tiny look of confidence flickers across her face. “Try to make it to the other side” he states trying to embolden her. She moves forward towards her goal but keeps looking back, checking to see that her daddy is still there. With an awkward swimming stroke she does it, she reaches the other side. Her face now beams with her accomplishment. “You did it,” he exclaims, “I knew you could!”
Haven’t we all seen this scene play out many times? Now let’s look at the scene at the time of the ascension of our Lord. Here are the Apostles swimming lessons.
Before letting go Jesus instructs them:
Luke 24:45 “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.”
Jesus knows that the Apostles are afraid to see Him “let go” as He prepares to return to the Father.
Luke 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
The Apostles are inspired by His reassurance of peace. They return to Jerusalem with the confidence of the child who has learned to reach the other side of the pool.
Luke 24:52 “They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy.”
Now Jesus does something special. He does something that no human father can do for their child even though every father may want to. Every dad wishes he could be at his child’s side all of the time. Fathers want to be there whenever their child is in need. Of course, for us mere mortals that is not possible. But it is possible for God! Jesus assures His followers the Father will send the Holy Spirit to be with them always.
Luke 14:26 “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
Next Sunday many Christians will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had foretold. Perhaps it helps us to see the Holy Spirit being for us what those little “swimmies” are on the arms of little children in the pool. He is with us and there to comfort, guide and protect us always.
My friends, Jesus has instructed us for our own swim across the pool of life. He has sent the Holy Spirit. We only need to open the Scriptures to be reminded of our “swimming lessons.” There is absolutely no doubt that we will all encounter fears and struggles as we cross life’s waters, and from time to time we will find ourselves sputtering after a scary unexpected gulp of water. “Peace I leave with you” is what He tells all of us. Perhaps after a period of sinful living or perhaps after a time of grief or pain, we will find ourselves looking back in the pool to see if He is still by our side. When that happens we are consoled by His words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
One day that glorious time will arrive. We will all make it to the other side of life’s swimming pool. When that day comes and we are seated face to face with our Lord and Savior we will all ask ourselves, why were we ever afraid?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you not only for the Gift of your Son Jesus but thank you also for the gift of your Holy Spirit who is with us forever, amen.