July 29, 2011

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Dive into the life of grace

Sean GallagherA nephew of mine who lives out of state recently stayed for a week at my parents’ home, so I made sure that my sons spent time and had fun with him.

One of those occasions was a trip to a YMCA pool in Indianapolis. While it was fun to watch my sons play in the water with their cousin, my attention was drawn surprisingly to my 2-year-old son, Philip.

I couldn’t believe how he took to the water. Whether it was his confidence in the shallow wading pool, his gleeful trotting around a series of in-ground sprinklers or his desire to kick his feet in the main pool, his daring and lack of fear was amazing.

Some of that is attributable to Philip’s developmental level and his inability to perceive the dangers about him. That’s why my wife, Cindy, or I were always close by or holding him.

On the other hand, we can learn from Philip’s precocious confidence. The life of grace is like the deep end of the pool. Too often, we adults think the water will be too cold or we won’t be able to keep our heads above the water. So we stay by the side of the pool instead of joining in the fun being had by a bunch of kids—the people so often praised by Christ.

So, like Philip, we adults have perception problems, too. It’s just that, with us, it’s usually that we see dangers that aren’t really there.

Now, in terms of the life of grace, you might think that this problem is rooted in an overactive humility. We don’t think we’re capable of living in a deep communion with God on a day-to-day basis.

But this isn’t really humility at all. It’s pride in disguise. We might think that we don’t want to have an ongoing relationship with our heavenly Father because we shouldn’t bother him with the little problems of our everyday lives. But could it be that we don’t really want his help because we think we can take care of them by ourselves?

We also might conclude in advance that what we want simply isn’t God’s will for us. And it may very well not be. But there’s no harm if we ask for it anyway, with the caveat that “thy will be done.”

Little children like Philip aren’t dominated by a pride that limits the requests they make. They know quite well that they can’t fulfill them themselves. So they ask for help often and without hesitation. Believe me, some days in my home, the requests never stop.

Our heavenly Father loves to hear us all day long asking him for help. It may be as simple as assistance in completing an ordinary but tedious household chore or as significant as the help we need to overcome a deeply ingrained bad habit.

Look at the daring of people who sought help from Jesus. There’s the case of the men who made a whole in a roof to lower their paralyzed friend before him so that he might cure him (Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26). There’s the story of the blind man Bartimaeus. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he cried to him for help and wouldn’t stop, even though the crowd tried to quiet him. His daring perseverance caught Jesus’ attention, showed his faith and led to his cure (Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:35-43).

If the friends of the paralyzed man or Bartimaeus were dominated by false humility, they would have never gotten near Jesus. But they were daring like little children. And that made all the difference.

So are we going to cling to the false, prideful view of ourselves and stand around in the stifling heat next to the pool? Or will we jump into the pool and be immersed in the refreshing waters of God’s love?

His grace will help us even on the outside of the pool to shed our fears and become daring like little children, like Philip, and dive right in. †

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