A baby, the surf, and mom

For the past few days, we’ve been on Maui, and the surf has been particularly rough at Kama’ole Beach, where we spend a lot of our time. It’s usually quite calm, but this year, the surf has verged on dangerous, and when I was flipped three times in less than two minutes, I figured it was better watched than experienced first-hand.

A young family was next to us: mom, dad, and a little boy who couldn’t have been more and a year and a half old. He could walk, and first, his dad carried him down to the edge of the water and set him down on his feet. The little boy stood firm as the waves came up to him, and dad let him stand on his own.

After a little while, it was mom’s turn to watch the baby. She was with him at their “camp” — beside their chairs and towels — and then he got up and trotted down to the surf. Mom trotted down with him. He ran as far as the water’s edge, then stopped when he got near the waves. After a moment, he reached up one hand to his mother. She took it, and the two of them took a couple of steps into the waves. Then she let his hand go, but stood right behind him as he took a couple more steps towards the surf.

The little guy was confident, but he also knew that his mother was there. He stepped further towards the surf; mom kept an eye on the ocean, and when big waves would come, she’d gently lift him out of the water and back up. Then, once the wave had retreated, she would put him back down and the process would start all over again.

Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

— Matthew 18:3

You can look at Jesus’ observation as a reminder of obedience or blind faith, or you can see it as that little boy. There was no fear in him, because his parents did not project any fear they might have had about the surf. But when his mother (and earlier, his father) would lift him out of the surf, he didn’t fight or complain. They could see the big picture and remove him from danger that he couldn’t see. So he was confident when walking on his own, knowing that his mom or dad would be there.

Isn’t that the essence of our relationship with God? Often, He sets us in places that are anything but “safe”, and we can walk confidently because we know that He’s always there to move us out of danger that He can see, but we can’t.

Some might say that’s weakness. Some of us don’t bother reaching up to take His hand, or stay just out of His reach, because we think we can spot the danger and deal with it by ourselves. If He tells us, “Don’t go there.” well, what does He know, anyway? What possible danger could there be? And we forget that He can see that 10-foot wave building up several hundred yards offshore — and we don’t see that wave until it’s on top of us.

No matter how old and experienced we get, we need to remember that little baby: confident in a complete lack of fear, knowing that Someone who sees all, knows all and loves all will be there to get us away from danger — long before that danger arrives.