Shanna Hoskison © June 2001
Recently we took our young toddler to a rock-bottom creek to experience water outside of the tub and water hose. “Big Water” we named it. When asked if she wanted to go play in the “Big Water” she would shake her head enthusiastically, even though she really had no idea what we were about to embark upon. When her daddy proceeded to load her in the truck, she was a bit confused as she looked and pointed to the water hose in confusion. The water hose is what she related to when she normally was allowed to play in the water. Upon further coaxing and explaining she finally decided to trust her parents that this was going to be better than her previous experiences with the unending supply of water for her. She really didn’t have any choice as the truck backed out of the drive way, but to look out the rearview window.
She gurgled a few syllables as we proceeded down the road, trying to explain what she was about to see and experience. She continued to shake her head and smile. I can only guess what was going through her thoughts at this point. “Ok Mom, I get it, now can we just get there, where-ever there is.” “I want to see if this ‘Big Water’ you keep talking about is really so exciting as it seems to be from your facial expressions!”
Upon arriving at the creek, our toddler’s face was filled with hope and expectation. She pointed and “talked” excitedly and was obviously ready to see what this was all about. Her daddy immediately put her feet into the water…a big no-no. She was excited, yes, but not quite ready for the cold water and slick feel of the rocks. She began to grunt and pull her feet up out of the water. Of course, he wanted her to run and jump in with both feet and continue to slide down the rocks and small waterfalls. Nope, that wasn’t going to happen, not the first time anyway. It would take a few minutes to slowly introduce this whole new thing to her. I took her hand, lifted her out of the water as her daddy proceeded down the creek to explore on his own…patience is obviously not on the side of a true outdoorsman in this setting.
I put her feet on dry ground for a few minutes as I talked to her, pointed out some of the other sites to behold and picked up a few loose rocks from the clear water. All the while her curiosity was beginning to be aroused. “If it’s ok for mommy to be in that, I guess I could try it.” After a bit more coaxing she took a few steps, or should I say stomps into the water. She stood on one foot while she hit the water with the other one, similar to that of a horse stamping the ground. Finally both feet went into the water, all the while holding to my hand. We walked a few feet, allowing her to take these steps slowly. She giggled with excitement and stopped to touch the water with her hands. Reaching through the water she was able to grasp a rock or two and throw them downstream sending them on their way through the gentle stream. Always returning to the safety of a hand. She began to feel a bit confident as she watched her daddy glide through the water unassisted and proceeded to give it a shot as she pulled her hand from mine. After a few steps she fell, hands first into the water, reaching once again for the security of my hand.
The water upstream was a bit deeper, but she was ready. She walked along hand in hand fully enjoying this outing. At one point we stopped to watch the water flowing over a small water fall of about 8 inches. She enjoyed the bubbles forming at the base and was willing to give it a feel. I notice just about a foot away a ball of waded baling twine caught on some rocks. Behind the twine is some water that has been laying unmoved, leaving it looking dirty and still. Just as I reach over to the twine with a stick to remove it, because she has also noticed it and I don’t want her to get into the dirty water…her daddy makes note of the fact that bugs, snakes, etc. hide in places like that. Too late, as I dislodge the twine, a snake is swimming around our feet. He is yelling “There he is!!” I am frantically attempting to remove my daughter from the swirling snake, slick stones, and still keep my footing so that we don’t all wind up in the water with a very unhappy snake. I can only think about getting her feet out of the water before it strikes, I will gladly take the bite in her stead. That’s my job. My love for her was all I could think of…not the danger I was in. As time stood still I could feel the snake around my ankles, I was praying I could get her out without falling in. Finally I was able to pull her out by one arm and set her over on dry ground. The snake was swimming the other direction as I too stepped out of the swirl of excitement. It was after this she is crying, visibly shaken and not wanting back in the water at all…at least not today. She’s really not aware of what just happened, but the yelling of her daddy and the tugging of her mommy wasn’t too fun.
It all happened so rapidly; I didn’t have time to think about much. After it was over, and everyone was safe, I began to think how that one episode is like life itself. We begin each day with a fresh new start. Sometimes those days are full of the unexpected, yet full of excitement. Our Father guides us by the hand as He leads us down the path He has for us. Most of the time we hold to His able hand, yet sometimes we begin to feel confident and we let go, yet we return to His hand when we begin to slip and fall. We should never have let go, He didn’t. We get caught up in the world and the many sights it has to offer. Although something may seem ‘stagnant’ we reach for it, innocently to clean it out…when all of a sudden satan comes after us with a vengeance. He was there all the time, just inches away, waiting for us to let our guard down. Then we are caught in what seems like an endless battle, yet all we have to do is step out of the swirl. Get back on dry land with the Father, He’s waiting and had your hand all the time. We may be a bit shook up because of our experience but we are back in His arms, safe once again. Another day we’ll try it again, and hopefully we won’t reach for what the world has to offer. But, being human, we probably will, and God will be there waiting on dry land to pull us out and hold us—as He always is.