Sarah-Faith’s first swimming lesson.

I held Sarah-Faith as she went into the pool for the first time. Ever since she slipped and fell into a deeper part of a pool, she was afraid of it. She would point to the water and cry, “Too deep! Too deep!”

Last week, we took Sarah-Faith for her first water lesson. At 2.5 years old, we are not expecting a Joseph Schooling. What’s important is for her to be comfortable in the water and not freak out.

Sarah-Faith held onto me like a Koala bear as we slipped down into the pool.

“Don’t worry, Sarah-Faith. Papa got you.”

I keep reassuring her that things would be ok. Holding onto her with both hands, she felt the awkward sensation of floating in water.

“Go back. Go back to Mama.” She wailed.

“Papa got you,” I said.

The swim instructor took out some toys and we started to fetch them in the water. From fear to fascination, Sarah-Faith clinged to the toys with glee.

In the short 45 min lesson, we started to see the swim-bunny inside of her come out. By playing different games, Sarah-Faith was becoming more confident in the water. We quickly ditched the floats because they were getting in her way to the toys. Instead of clutching to me like a Koala bear, she allowed me to let her float on her belly.

Then came the ultimate challenge. The instructor put yellow duckies on the other side of the pool. The kiddies were to ‘swim’ over and pick them up.

Now, there was no more fear. There was no more doubt. With excitement and determination, I held Sarah-Faith on her tummy as she kicked her way to get the duckies.

The fear melted away. With smiles and laughter, she held onto the duckies and swam back to the edge.

I am learning that one of my roles as a father is to help her overcome fear by encouraging her and building her confidence. I found that was the most effective way. Often the hardest thing is journeying with her step by step.

I don’t blame her for being afraid of water. Who wouldn’t be? Yes, water is to be feared if she is by herself without any swimming skills. But when Papa is with her, there’s no need to fear.

Fear is overcome when there is something solid we can lean on. What I find most puzzling in our culture is the idea that fear can be overcome by stating it is not there. To declare you are not afraid without anything to back it up, is pointless to me. It is the same as if I put Sarah-Faith in the water by herself and as she cries, I keep yelling, “Don’t be afraid. Fear doesn’t exist”. Fear cannot be overcome in a vacuum.

How did Sarah-Faith overcome her fear? It wasn’t because of the floats or a great program or fancy toys. It was when she realised her Papa was with her and things would be be ok. I don’t need her to be unafraid. She didn’t need to be afraid because I am with her. We are in this together and she knows I will not let her go.

This is the same when we follow Jesus and know that our Heavenly Father is with us.

After Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, He gave the disciples the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus reassured the disciples that He will be with them until the very end. Jesus could have told them that God has the ultimate victory in the end or He will send them armies of angels to fight for them. Or motivate them that they will receive heavenly reward. Instead, Jesus simply stated He will be with them.

Jesus being with me is more than enough.

I’ve been following Jesus for almost 15 years. Even now, there are times when I am afraid. As someone who had a liver transplant, one of the greatest concerns is health care. Who will take care of me if my liver fails? Is there a plan that can cover my costs? What if something happens to me when we are doing missions?

The fear is legitimate and it is real. But just as Sarah-Faith was afraid of the water and her Papa reassured her things will be fine, Jesus is with me (and my family) the whole time as we go in the water. And this is the most reassuring of all. To know that my heavenly Papa is with me even as we go into the deep end.

By the end of the lesson Sarah-Faith didn’t even want to leave the pool. She knew that when her Papa was with her, being in the water would be ok (and fun).

For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. – Psalm 18:29

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way.”
-“God knows” by Minnie Haskins