Five children, ages seven to ten, were lined up side-by-side on the cement pool deck. My sister and I were among them. The diving coach stood about ten feet in front of us, as he barked out the same rhythm, “Let’s move! Step 1 -2- 3, JUMP.”
Five new divers took three steps forward as counted, and then jumped as high as we could. After jumping, we’d scramble back to the starting point on the deck to do it again. And again. And again. After a while, we added throwing our arms up in the air, while kicking up our left knee to the jumping. Step by repetitive step, we learned how to perform a dive approach.
“If you don’t have a strong bounce off the board, you’ll never have a successful dive. Your approach has to be solid, and your bounce has to be high. Do it again!”
I remember practicing that darn three-step approach for days. Finally, we were allowed to move to the diving board. Step 1 – 2 – 3, knee and arms up, pushing down on the flexible board, bouncing up high, sailing up into the air and landing in the water.
Now, one of my favorite sports to watch is diving. The movements in the air are amazing, as are the perfect entries. But those dives start on the board. Fancy dives don’t just happen without a strong approach and a high bounce.
The instructions barked out to me when I was seven are useful in a lot of places in life, not just on a diving board. Preparation is key for any success. Any good coach will tell you that excellence doesn’t just happen. It’s a result of grasping the fundamentals, making an effort and doing the best you can.
Just ask Moses. He told the fleeing Israelites: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only keep still.” (Exodus 14:14). Um… Really?? That sounds amazing! Pardon me while I take a load off and watch that happen.
Well, Moses was right, but he forgot a step. Fortunately, he had a great Coach. In the next verse, God said to him, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward! And you, raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water…” (Exodus 14:15) Yes, God will give them the victory, but not without their participation.
The Israelites had to go forward, Moses had to raise his arm. Then, and only then, could God bless their efforts abundantly.
In every part of life, we are called to take action. Getting a good test grade, hitting a home run, or landing a perfect dive, it all depends on us. After all, God can’t bless our efforts if we don’t make any.
Our ultimate Coach wants us to practice, to try, to move forward. So if you want to succeed, don’t just grab a chair and a soda, and watch the show.
Instead, do the work to set it up. Bounce high. Then you’ll see what God can do for you.
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