I didn't plan for it to end that way. I guess I didn't really plan for it to end at all...in my eight-year-old mind, I would always be swimming with goggles. It was all I had ever known, and I was too afraid to swim with my eyes closed.
So, goggles were my steady companion every time I swam. The pool or the ocean--it didn't matter. I wasn't going to swim without them.
But one summer, everything changed. And not because of any willingness on my part.
Early in our annual beach vacation, my dad and I were out in the warm ocean water, searching for just the right wave to shoot us to shore. We waited out several small ripples in hopes that there would be a powerful surge of water to give us the ride of a lifetime. That wave finally came.
"GO!" My dad yelled and, positioning my goggles securely over my eyes, I started swimming--just waiting for the mini-tsunami to pick me up and carry me along. The mighty wave soon caught up with me. It had magnificent force, and I could feel the grit of the sandy shoreline in no time. I stood up--I had made it! But something wasn't right. Frantic, I began looking for my goggles; they weren't on my head or floating anywhere nearby. Tears welled up in my eyes as I told my parents what happened. I felt hurt, angry, and lost without my trusty goggles on my head. We began walking down the beach in search of the aqua-colored goggles, but to no avail. My dad tried to console me as tears continued to stream down my face. "Maybe some fish can use them." I smiled at the thought, but I knew the week would never be the same without my goggles.
My dad told me ocean water wouldn't hurt my eyes, but how was that possible? I had always equated any type of water in my eyes with pain. Devastated from my loss, I couldn't even enjoy building sandcastles. I wistfully watched my brothers--with their goggles safely over their eyes--as they played in the ocean.
"Why did I ride that wave? I'll never be able to enjoy the ocean again until I have goggles." I threw a huge pity-party that day, unable to appreciate the warm sun that shone down on the beach.
My brothers let me borrow their goggles from time to time for the rest of the day, but sharing goggles didn't work too well. After much coaxing, I cautiously got back in the ocean--without any eye protection. I finally realized my dad was right; I didn't need goggles in the ocean, or anywhere else, for that matter!
That was the last pair of goggles I ever owned. I learned that there is a time for goggles--just as there is a time for many of the crutches we use in life. However, I also learned that there is a time to put them away and grow up.
Life is kind of like learning to swim without goggles. There comes a point in our lives when we have to ditch our crutches and do something we are afraid of; however, we don't have to do it alone. Just as my parents were there, consistently telling me it was going to be okay--that I could swim without goggles--Jesus is there to strengthen and encourage us in every situation. Psalm 138:3 says, "On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul." And Paul puts it so clearly in his letter to Timothy: "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power..." (2 Timothy 1:7)
In order to live the way God has called us, I've learned that we have to confront and conquer our fears. We can only win that battle with the help of the Holy Spirit.
My goggles encumbered me every time I swam. I couldn't jump in the water on a whim because the goggles had to be situated first. However, once I learned to swim without goggles, I had the freedom to jump in anytime. There was nothing holding me back.
Jesus has called us to be bold for Him. The only way to do that is "...forgetting what lies behind [taking off the goggles] and . . . press on toward the goal [jump in]." (Philippians 3:13-14)