“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
In 1991, Kevin Costner starred in a little flick called Robin Hood, and while I haven’t seen it in a while, there is one scene that is unforgettable. Robin Hood and Jon Little are fighting in the river and, after some effort, Robin Hood gets Jon Little. “Do you yield?” Robin says again and again, dunking Jon under the water. “Yes!” Jon finally screams, afraid he will drown. “Good” says Robin, “now put your feet down.” Jon Little yields the river he controls, to Robin Hood - not because Robin Hood was the better man, and not because he wanted to. He yielded because he was afraid – afraid to drown.
Summer is coming to a close and, something that tends to be synonymous with summer is swimming lessons - one of my favorite times of the year. Whether kids are learning to float, jump in the pool, or simply get into the pool for the first time, there is a recognizable fear that sometimes comes with these lessons - jumping into the pool being the scariest one of all.
It all starts with the kids lining up on the side of the pool, with the instructor in the water, 3 feet away. The kids are standing at the edge of the pool, some hugging themselves because they’re cold, and others because they’re terrified. This will certainly be the largest death-defying act they have ever attempted (nevermind the fact that the water is up to the instructor’s waist, and each kid has already WALKED over this exact spot, just five minutes earlier). It has now become a matter of life and death.
So it begins, each child, one-by-one, half jumping, half falling into the pool after the same “dance” is completed by each child (except for the mini-Evel Kinevel who executed the perfect cannonball). First, the child shakes their head frantically saying “No, I can’t do it.” The instructor counters with an encouraging nod, saying things like “You can do this. I’m right here. Don’t worry, I’ll catch you.” The child, taking a deep breath, tippy-toes to the edge of the pool. The instructor inches closer with a hand up and a “C’mon, you can do it!” Finally, after two false starts, the child reaches out with one hand, plugging their nose with the other, half hopping, half falling into the pool as their life flashes before their eyes…
Zach Williams released a song not too long ago called Fear is the Liar. At its core, the song speaks of the fear that tries to make us yield to all sorts of things. It tries to tell us we aren’t good enough. It tries to tell us we aren’t smart enough. It tries to tell us we aren’t worthy or loved and that we should just stop right here. But the thing about fear is, it’s a liar.
Our goal at Zion this year is to stomp out that fear. Our goal is to help each student move right past it without a second’s thought. Our goal is to help every student reach and surpass their goals to become the best they can be. Our theme this year is “Be Strong. Be Brave. Be Fearless.”, so we’re going to push them. We’re going to push them because we already know how it ends.
…One and a half seconds later, they’ll be back above water, a big smile on their face, wading over to the ladder as fast as they can so they can do it again because “THAT WAS AWESOME!”