June 30, 2006

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Dive into God’s love this summer

We’re now in the days of summer—the days that take me back to my childhood when I spent many hot days in our neighbor’s pool.

As my thoughts go back in time, the bottom of my feet almost start to feel hot again as I recall quickly skittering barefoot to the pool along the sun-baked sidewalks of my neighborhood.

I suppose these memories are more vivid for me these days because my 4-year-old son, Michael, has started to take swiming lessons at a nearby YMCA.

A week or so before the lessons started, my wife took Michael to the pool at the facility to get him acclimated to it.

At first, he was scared even to touch the water. Then, when he did get in, he just wanted to hold on to his mommy. Finally, in the days leading up to his first lesson, he was willing to let his feet touch the bottom in the shallow end.

On the day of the first lesson, Michael was ready. As he learned a kicking stroke, a broad smile spread across his face as water splashed all around.

Hopefully, there will be many days of pool-time fun for Michael in the months and years to come—just like there were for me so long ago.

But this summertime sentimental journey is filled with more than just sentiment. There is something that we can learn about the life of faith from scenes of kids jumping into pools on hot July days.

The life of faith is a life of risk. God challenges us to release our tight grip on those things that we think give us comfort. He invites us to trust that he will provide more joy and fulfillment than we could ever imagine when we give away ourselves for the good of others.

We humans don’t like such a proposition. We like what we see here and now, and find it hard to believe that something great awaits us on the other side of sacrifice.

It’s like when Michael stood frightened at the edge of the pool. Getting in the water seemed scary. How could it be fun?

But mommy was in the pool. So were some of his friends. It can’t be all that bad. So he eventually, if still with hesitation, made the plunge.

Although his first fears are in the past, others will likely come. I suspect that when he is asked to take off his flotation device, the anxiety he felt in the past will resurface.

In the past, in our lives of faith, we may have, by the grace of God, jumped into it after overcoming our trepidations.

But then there are new challenges. We may have taken our first few strokes in trusting God more. But he’s always asking for more. The more we trust him, the more that we will be bathed in his love.

Just like Jesus 2,000 years ago invited the fisherman Simon to “set out into the deep” (Lk 5:4), God calls us today to immerse ourselves in the depths of his love through a greater and greater trust in him.

His love, if we embrace it, will cast out all our fears.

For us, contentment in our growth of faith and the other virtues is not an option. God always urges us to give more of ourselves, to approach that height and depth of love where we cling only to him.

The deep waters of God’s love may seem scary to us, like the deep end of a big pool for a 4-year-old beginning swimmer.

The water of God’s love is where our feet can’t touch the floor. Fling aside your fears and dive into the abyss of God’s love this summer. †


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