Between Behemoth and the Belly of the Whale

Other children splashed happily in the pool. Confidently swimming from one side to the other, her peers had crossed the threshold from fear to faith. 

But not my daughter. 

My daughter was stuck. 

Stuck on the diving board six feet above the water with her jaw set, arms crossed, eyes squinting defiantly against her swim instructor. No matter what, her posture said, I’m not jumping in. 

The board was too high. The water was too scary. And the instructor waiting directly beneath the board with outstretched arms to catch her? Altogether untrustworthy. 

“If she doesn’t jump in,” the instructor had said in one of those off-to-the-side-so-the-kid-doesn’t-hear-you conferences, “she’ll never learn to trust me. You have to back me up.” 

And so, unbeknownst to my child, I vowed to betray her. Pledged not to rescue her when the standoff reached high noon. 

“If you don’t jump,” the instructor told her, “we’ll have to drop you in.” 

How a three-foot-tall four-year-old thought she could stare down a five-foot-something behemoth, I’ll never know, but she gave it her best shot. Perhaps she was sure her mother would come to her defense. Or that a clap of thunder would miraculously clear the pool. Or that her pint-sized defiance would intimidate her Volkswagen-sized adversary. 

Whatever the source of her bravado, she wasn’t budging. Until a second instructor, backup to the first, stepped onto the diving board. 

And she was trapped. 

Wedged between an unknown future and certain death, she eyed her options one more time, her scathing glance now including Judas, the mother who had betrayed her. 

As the second instructor approached, she backed toward the edge. The instructor took each trembling hand in hers, lifted her squirming body as gently as she could off the board, and deposited her safely into the first instructor’s waiting arms with nary a splash. 

“Hooray!” shouted one of the onlookers watching the drama unfold, and other swimmers joined in the applause. 

“See,” her instructor said, “I told you I would catch you. That you didn’t need to be afraid. That you could trust me.” 

“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 

He said: ‘In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 

. . . When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD. 

And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jon. 1:1-3, 7-10). 

What about you? Are you standing with your toes on the edge of the board peering down into an unknown future? 

 Fear not. 

If you don’t jump, you’ll never move forward. 

And you’ll never learn to trust. 

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). 


If you're a homeschooling mom and live within driving distance of Summerville, South Carolina, I'd love to invite you to join me and the Low Country Home Educators for a morning of encouragement.

On Saturday, January 24, I'll be sharing one of my most-requested talks, "8 Mistakes I've Made While Homeschooling." It's a candid look at what NOT to do as you homeschool your children. 
The gracious ladies of LCHEE have opened their meeting to guests, and we'd love to have you join us.
Here are all the details:
When: Saturday, January 24 at 9 a.m.
Where: The Nursing Building, Room 132, at Charleston Southern University
For more information: Contact Melissa Rhoton at  email

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  1. Loved this one! The verses in Deuteronomy are the same verses that we read in tonight

    1. Don't you love it, Krystal, when God repeats himself to be sure we don't miss his message? So glad to be a part of his wonderful work in your life :)

  2. Lori, I love your writing and I loved this piece. You write with gentle authority. I can feel your wisdom. And I could visualize every aspect of the story. Good job Judas. :) Looking forward to getting to know you better through your blog, your book, and who knows, maybe in person at a conference one day. I'm so thankful the Lexington chapter has you in their group. Blessings!

    1. Oh, Andy, that scene took place many years ago, but the agony of it, as well as the rejoicing, is just as fresh as if it were today! Thankfully, the lesson we both learned also still resonates. Thanks for stopping by, commenting, and sharing WW with our area. Will you be a BRMCWC by chance? Hope to see you there!

  3. Yes, you must jump and let G-d catch you.