To all of you out there who do just fine with cold water, good for you! I am not one of those people. For me, cold water is somewhat debilitating. So naturally, the swimming merit badge was not easy for me. This story starts like any horror story you’ve heard before, lot’s of rain, some daunting task ahead, and even a sketchy dock on a lake. I was 13 at Camp Meriwether and I was going to earn that merit badge. That year I had finally been able to overcome that glacier runoff water and pass the swim test, but that day with the rain was especially intimidating. And to make matters worse, that day we were learning dives, the standing and crouched dives. I did NOT want to be anywhere near that ice cold water that day, but if I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t earn the merit badge. So I sat on the beach and contemplated just how important this all was to me. I watched as each of the other boys tried, and failed, to do those two dives.
Just when I was about to leave, my dad, who was a scout leader for our group at the time, showed up. I explained to him just how impossible it was going to be for me to do the dives. I explained how none of the other boys had been able to do either of the two dives. At this point, I had already stalled for half of the time the merit badge class would be and I was determined to not waste my time flopping into that water.
My dad patiently waited till I had finished, then asked: “Have you tried praying for help?”. I hesitatingly answered him, “No, um, I didn’t think this was a big enough problem”. He then explained to me how God does not care about the swimming merit badge, or my ability to do those dives, but God loves and cares about me and what is important to me. If I really want to earn this merit badge, then he will help me. So then I said a prayer, asking that I would have the courage and be able to do the dives. I opened my eyes and… nothing changed. It was still raining and I still hated the idea of jumping into that water. I was really confused. I had prayed, shouldn’t I have gotten an answer? I looked at my dad, and before I could say anything he says, “now you have to have faith”.
So I turned and faced the dock. Holy guacamole I was scared. But I took a step towards the water. Then another, and another. With every step I took, I was less and less scared. Each step took less effort than the last until I was finally at the end of the dock by the instructor. By that point I didn’t even need to think about what I was doing, it was all automatic. I turned to the instructor and asked, “what dive would you like first?”, he answered that I needed to show the standing dive first. I immediately dove into the water, when I surfaced, the instructor said “Did you guys see that? That‘s what it should look like”.
I then climbed out of the water, still without any real effort on my part, and asked what dive next. He answered the crouched dive. I then dove into the water. When I surfaced he said, “Perfect! You’re all done!”, and offered me a hand out of the water.
This experience taught me two things. One, God loves us, and no matter how small of a thing it is, if it matters to us, it matters to him. All we need to do is ask. Second, we need to act in faith. If we don’t care enough about something to at least try, then we can’t expect him to just give it to us. We are on this earth to learn. I know that when we act with faith, God will always help us reach our righteous goals.
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