So this past July 4th weekend I was in Hardy, Arkansas for the annual pilgrimage of the Wood’s Family Reunion crew. My nephew, my sister’s son, was there with his MauMau and BopBop. He is 7 and a half years old, and be sure to not leave off the half. He has never gone over the falls (class two rapids at best) in an inner tube. So what do I, as his trusted uncle, talk him into doing…going over the falls.
He is all for it, but doesn’t realize what it entails. Some years there are snakes galore in the Spring River and other years, like this one, you don’t see one at all. My uncle and dad saw one earlier in the day, but no kids had spotted one. But the threat is there. Now from my past perspective I used to look out over the Spring River and imagine alligators, snakes, and fish with teeth that could swallow me whole. I would see the grown-up men walking out on the falls and in the little patches of reeds to get to the best fishing holes. I thought they were the bravest men alive. I always wondered if I would be brave like that one day.
Now fast forward to today. I still don’t feel that brave out in the middle of The River when you step off of a rock and drop into water that is touching your chin or over your head. Then you tip-toe a few steps and end up running into another boulder that hits you in the chest. It is frightening. I stay out of the patches of reeds because snakes hide out in there to keep from being washed down the falls. My dad has had a snake wrap itself around his leg to try to avoid going over the falls. Little did the snake know that he was about to earn his airborne wings as my dad kicked the snake as high as that snake has probably ever been.
So I take my nephew out to the falls with an inner tube in one arm and him clinging to the other one. He is having an okay time so far, but as we start walking over the rocks with the water threatening to wash him into the alligatored abyss he starts getting freaked out. Twice he latches on with his entire body as though the river is raging and snakes are coming out of the rocks to get him. He is scared, and I mean scared on a level that I remember far too well.
So here is where the lesson on faith comes in. Half-way into this fiasco I stop walking (which means he stopped moving because he has his entire being wrapped on the left side of my body while I am walking us over the falls). I approach things from a different angle at this point and it goes something like this:
“Do you believe that I would do something to you to hurt you?”
“Do you believe that I love you and will protect you?”
“Do you believe that if something were trying to hurt you that I would do everything possible to protect you and get you to safety?”
“Okay. You need to act like you believe those things and start walking on the falls. Can you do that for me?”
At this point he unlatches and with scared confidence begins to walk a couple of steps.
What do I say as the wise uncle? “If there is a snake then we will be able to see him and I will make sure you are okay.” RELATCH!!!
So what did I learn?
First, that we can believe things in our heart of hearts all day long, and I mean truly believe. But fear is more real than faith sometimes.
Second, God enjoys our relationship with Him, but there is far more joy in love than in fear. “Perfect love cast out fear”. There was not enough love happening on the falls for the fear to be gone.
Third, even though fear is there, acting on your beliefs even in the face of fear can allow you to move forward, you just have to keep telling yourself what you believe.
Fourth, seeing is believing and it is a lot easier to see the things we fear than to see the positive elements around us, like a protective uncle.
I am sure there are more, but these stand out. I have been thinking about it for a week now, but just got around to posting.
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed rereading it!
Daddy Moose, or Uncle Moose for this post.