Friday, May 30, 2008

Jump or Dive

I grew up in South Texas, and my family had a pool in the backyard. Swimming was our favorite form of recreation nine months out of the year. All backyard games revolved around the pool, whether we were playing water volleyball, Marco Polo, or just seeing who could hold their breath the longest. One of my favorite pool games was a game called “Jump or Dive.” In this game, one person would run to the end of the diving board and spring up high into the air. While that person was at their fullest height, a competitor would yell either, “JUMP!” or “DIVE!” At that moment, the person in the air would try to adjust their body to accommodate the command. Some of the funniest bodily contortions I have ever seen were the result of this game. Legs flail, arms wave, torsos twist, but in the end, more often than not, the result was an all out belly flop. In order to be successful, the jumper had to accurately predict which call the caller would make. The caller, however, had the advantage of being able to see what the jumper was anticipating, and make the opposite call in the air. It seems, in retrospect, the commitment to either jump or dive is made before leaving the board.

Sometimes in life I feel like I am playing a game of Jump or Dive. It works like this: I wake up and shower, knowing that I have Bible Study in the morning, and then a lunch date, followed by an appointment with one of my clients. I know that I will have just enough time after my client meeting to pick up the one ingredient I need to complete my dinner plan and still be on time to pick my son up from school. I know that I will then go home, fold a load of laundry, cook dinner, and if all goes well, still have time to read a book before falling in to bed. I am ready to JUMP.

But as I get out of the shower, I hear my son tell his father, “I only have a half day of school today, I’ll be out at noon, and I bet mom lets me play extra video games!”

Out at noon? He’ll be out at noon? What about my lunch date? And my client meeting? Did someone just yell, “DIVE!”?

I reach for my phone, and wonder if it’s too early to call a friend about a change in lunch plans! While pouring a bowl of cereal, I calculate what I can make for dinner with the ingredients I already have in my pantry. I can dive. Really. As I put the phone to my ear, I hear the signal that tells me I have a message. I dial my code only to hear that the message is from the receptionist at my doctor’s office, who called yesterday to remind me of an appointment for 11:30 a.m. today, and by the way, “don’t forget to fast before you come.” I spit cheerios from my mouth while I frantically try to figure out how I can gracefully not only cancel my lunch date with my friend, but ask her if she would be able to pick up my child from school, since he gets out early, and I have a doctor’s appointment that I forgot about. Am I diving? No. Clearly I’m belly flopping.

I love the verse that says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord!” I find great relief in knowing that SOMEBODY knows the plan. Mid belly-flop, I often find myself wondering if this moment could have been avoided. Someone once said, “My Plan B was God’s Plan A.” When I feel like all of my plans have been usurped, altered, ruined, or frustrated, I can be confident that whatever my plan is being changed TO was the plan that God had in mind all along. I do wonder, though, how often the contortions of my will and my heart and my spirit could have been avoided had I simply consulted God FIRST. You see, unlike the caller in the game Jump or Dive, God is not out to trick us. He doesn’t always lay out the whole plan in advance, but I need to remember that He will always tell me which way to go just at the right time.

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