When my older boys were younger, I heeded this parenting advice: “As a boy mom, your main job is to keep them alive.” At 15 and 13, they were skateboard fanatics. This is good, I reasoned. Sports and hobbies that involve physical activity are much better than screens and video games.
But video games don’t cause death on impact. No one ends up in the ER with sprained thumbs or rotted brains. With skateboarding, my job to keep them alive just got harder.
“Do you have your helmet? What about knee pads? Elbow pads? How about your cell phone to call me? Is it fully charged? Is it on silent? Then turn on the sound!”
The interrogation continued as I thought of all possible scenarios.
“Do you have water? It might get hot. Did you put on sunscreen? Do you have a jacket if it’s too cold? Do you need money?”
Once I got enough sufficient “uh-huhs,” I released them to have fun. “Oh, and call me when you’re done! Before dark…” I hollered after them.
I watched them walk towards the skatepark as if it were the Green Mile.
I observed the situation:
Plenty of adults to call in case my kid’s head falls off. Wait. Many of the adults are skating … without helmets. Or knee pads, or elbow pads … The most protection I see are tube socks. Isn’t this illegal? What kind of example are they setting for my kids?
I hear the commercial in my head where a dad is saying, “My son died skateboarding because he wasn’t wearing his helmet. If only he wore his helmet…”
I want to chase down my boys for one more lecture. Sort of a “don’t give into adult-bad-role-model behavior” pep talk.
I grip my steering wheel and lay my head on it. I want to wrap my boys in bubble wrap.
In the Disney movie, The Croods, young Eve is angry with her father Grug for being so overprotective. He’s the helicopter dad of the prehistoric era. He reasons with her that he is trying to keep her safe from danger so they can stay alive. Eve tells her dad, “That isn’t living. It’s just NOT dying!”
And I wonder: In my quest to keep my boys alive, am I letting them live?
I imagine Jesus’ disciple Peter in the boat with the other disciples, looking out at Jesus walking on the water. What was he thinking about? I doubt he was focused on the safety precautions involved in how he’d keep himself from drowning. I think he was laser focused on Jesus who was walking on water. Peter wanted to do THAT. He wanted the supernatural abundant life Christ was offering when He said, “Come.”
Perhaps the other disciples were like me, lecturing Peter: “Do you know how to swim? Do you want us to tie a rope around you? Maybe you should stay here…” But Peter was like my boys, wanting a life of adventure.
To get that life, he had to step out of the safety of his boat where all his friends were and step into the danger of the waves and wind where Jesus was. He risked dying in order to fully live.
God lives outside our comfort zones, and if we want to experience more of Him and the abundant life He offers, we have to go where He is.
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. How it is that I find life by taking risks to lose it?
With all this focus on the skating gear, I’d missed the joy and adventure of skating.
And in my life, was I missing the joy and adventure with Jesus? Are you? How many God moments do we miss because fear capsizes our faith?
Past heartaches, hurts and broken body parts can leave us paralyzed to experience life to the full.
We need to shift our focus outside the boat and onto Jesus.
Paul offers us this advice in Philippians 4:6-9 NLT:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Thank you, Lord, for my boys and the abundant life they pursue. You love them more than I do, and you’ve put in their hearts a desire for adventure and joy. May I encourage that in them and lean into the abundant life You provide. Help me fix my eyes on You and my thoughts as well. This will take practice. And I won’t do it perfectly. But little by little, my perspective will shift as I lean into the abundant life you offer.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
—Hebrews 12:2a NLT