Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life's Leaps

It all started very early in life for me. I was blessed to have a dad who was a natural teacher of life lessons. Dad knew that life, real life, has to be anticipated and prepared for in very real terms. So, throughout my growing up, he would just naturally slip into these very practical teaching moments.

One such lesson came as a recurring game that he and I used to play when I was very small. I think I was probably not more than four years old at the time.

My grandparents owned a mom & pop type grocery store. And it was a place that we frequented to spend time with them. On several of those occasions my dad and I would play this game.

He would stand me up on the check-out counter in the store (about three feet above the floor). He would then take a step or two back, lift his massive arms, and say,with a shining smile, “Do you trust me, son?”

Always my answer was the same. It was some form of yes. And then he would yell, “Then jump!” And, I would - every time. And every time, he caught me, and hugged me, and tickled me, and we laughed.

I’m sure there are some who will read this article and be aghast that a father would take such a chance with his child. Please. Did I mention that I was only three feet off the ground? 
And if those dear faint hearts had known my dad, they would have known this about him – he never misses

And had they been so blessed as to know him, they would also have understood that he knew very well the worth of what he was doing. He was teaching me two things. 

First, he was teaching me that he, my father, was trustworthy. This lesson came in pretty handy throughout my life.  But, that was especially true in my teen years. 

When I went temporarily insane (as does most of my gender) in those years, he had a perfect track record of trustworthiness at which to point.  And, by then, it was confirmed by much more than our childhood game.  And, it was really his trustworthiness that got us both through that “train wreck” period of my life.

When you don’t know who you are or what you’re doing, it really
helps to know someone who does. We had many conversations in those years that started off with, “Do you trust me, son?"

Second, he was teaching me that life requires us to take risks. And he was absolutely right. Life is all about risk – like it or not. 

It is not necessarily about recklessness. But, it is inherently about risk. We encounter risk of every kind every day as we try to go forward in life.  Where we are attempting to experience personal growth, or to achieve our goals, or to enter into an important relationship - risk comes into play.

And on some of those occasions, we are required to risk ourselves to the sufficiency of someone else. From the airline pilot, to a fellow soldier, to a wise parent, to the Savior of our soul, we must sometimes trust others to “catch” us.

So, I did not learn recklessness through our game. In fact, my dad taught me the foolishness of that throughout my growing years. But I did learn that we simply cannot always be safe in life. 

And, as I learned about risk, I also learned something about assessing life’s risks. And I learned a bit about how to assess who and what you trust to take you past those risks.

I can still see my confident, twenty-five year old dad standing there smiling. I can still hear his strong, challenging voice,“Do you trust me, son? Then jump!” And I did - every time.

It is also easy to anticipate God’s voice, on occasion, offering this same challenge to His children, “Do you trust me, child? Then jump!” And, I would like to think that we will – every time; because, in fact, He never misses, either.

“For I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day. – The Apostle Paul