My son, Ezra, was night fishing on the dock a couple years ago during our annual stay at a lake house. He was 3 years old, and he loved that he could be up late watching the lighted bobbers in the water with his daddy. When it was time to come in, he was walking down the dock on his way back to the house, and he wandered off the dock and fell into the dark water below. Instantly we bent down and grabbed him out of the water by his lifejacket, and although he was incredibly shook up, we dried him off and snuggled him in blankets by the campfire, and he seemed to get through it surprisingly well.
The next day, however, he wanted nothing to do with the water. He told us he was scared of going “down, down, down again,” and he wanted to go home. His experience in the dark water the night before seemed to overshadow all the incredible fun we had been having all week. We had to take him back to the water and explain that he was always safe with his lifevest on; that even if he went under for a moment, he would always pop back up. The rest of the vacation, we splashed and swam and made memories, memories he would have missed out on if he would have let fear consume him and keep him from the water.
There are moments of our lives we go under. The world or our circumstances seem dark and frightening. Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you WILL have trouble.” Yet his very next words are, “But take heart, I have overcome the world!” The words, “take heart” mean to “exercise bold and confident courage.” The disciples are about to experience the darkest moments the earth has yet seen as their beloved friend and Savior will be taken away from them and killed. But He tells them and us that even in the darkest days – be bold and courageous. Because the darkness will never have the final say.
My son had to push past his initial fear of going back to the water. We had to remind him his lifevest would keep him safe, even if he went under for a moment. Most of us have experienced dark waters or will at some point. And I know so well how it can keep us from fully experiencing the abundant life God means for us to live. But Jesus didn’t want His friends to walk around in fear or sorrow or defeat, nor does He want this for us.
Let us not forget that we have our lifevest on. I don’t know what the future holds. It’s a new year and a new presidential administration. Jesus warns us to expect trouble in the world. But we can be bold and courageous, full of joy and hope, because our Savior has overcome the world. There is no darkness in the world or our circumstances that can ever keep us under.
– Mel Anderson