Hands flew up in the air. Water splashed. Claps and cheers erupted, as I exclaimed, “A swimmer is born!” Then we all watched and waited as it all unfolded again before our eager eyes. Not one, but two of my daughters learned to swim on their own today. Their five-year-old little brother was not to be outdone. He said, “Take my puddle jumper off mom. I want to swim too.” I said, “Okay, Brogal, if you want to try you can. Mommy will stay right beside you.” I walked hand in hand out to the deep end of the pool with him. Once his feet couldn’t reach the bottom, I asked if he was ready and then let him go. He tried to keep himself afloat but sunk quickly under. I lifted him up, let him catch his breath, and then let him go again. Again he sank. Again I lifted him up. After three tries he decided he had swallowed enough water and cried and asked to go back to the shallow end of the pool. I took him back and reassured him that in time he would learn to swim on his own too. I explained that when his big sisters were his age they too went under when trying to swim and that it took a long time and lots of swallowed water before they could swim on their own.
We need to allow our children to sink, we just don’t want to let them drown. There have been times when I have coddled and babied my children and kept them from doing what they could and would be able to if given the chance. But I wanted to spare them from sinking. I wanted to guarantee their lives to be free from pain or difficulty. But that’s not how God treats us.
Jesus let Peter sink, but He didn’t let him drown. He was always right there, ever ready to come to his rescue. Jesus was not about to let Peter drown, but if he had not allowed him to risk going under, Peter would not have experienced walking on water. We see this phenomenon other places in Scripture as well. Perhaps Isaiah 43:2 says it best,
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Sometimes the very thing we need is a little fire to purify our soul, or a little water to push us to our limits so that we might rely on God and not ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9).
We can’t hover over our children and keep them from every difficulty. We have to be willing, sometimes, to let them go under for a bit, or they will never learn to swim on their own. Our role, as parents, is to model our Savior and stay right beside them, so that we can readily come to their aide and keep them from drowning.
If you’re not sure what this should look like for you and your kids, just ask God. Say, “Lord, would you please reveal to me if there is anything in my parenting that is holding my children back from becoming all that they can be in Christ? Show me if I need to make any changes. Help me be willing to let them learn life lessons, but also show me how to stay right at their side through it all so that they can draw courage and strength from knowing that I love them and I will come to their rescue in a moment.” God will reveal to you what you need to know because He is ever ready to keep you from drowning as a parent, even though you may feel like you are swallowing a lot of water these days. Follow Peter’s example and cry out to Jesus. He longs to come to your aid.