This sermon is part of the sermon series The Ripple Effect.See series.
In the summer of my 11th year of life, I learned the power and joy of surrender. It happened in Minnesota at the Edina community swimming pool high dive. For five summers I had watched—in admiration and terror—the big kids climb 35 steps into thin air, walk a long concrete diving board, and then jump into the cool water below. For a few agonizing seconds they disappeared in the deep end only to reemerge alive and whole, beaming with delight.
I had long avoided the high dive. I wouldn't even come close to the deep end. But when my buddies—and even some girls—started plunging off the high dive, I knew I had to save face. Being uncool was worse than plunging to my certain death.
On a humid day in July, with my stomach reeling and my knees wobbling, I climbed the 35 steps into thin air. As I walked out on the plank, everything within me said, You fool, turn around and climb back down. You can still live! But when I started to backpedal and looked over my shoulder, I saw the line of friends, older kids, and girls chuckling. I knew I must jump.
Creeping to the edge of the plank, I looked over the edge, and I finally let go and jumped. Down I plunged, hitting the water like a stone, sinking lower and lower into my watery grave. So this is how they die, I thought. Some people hit the water and never come back up. They get sucked through a grate at the bottom of the pool and turned into chlorine. But then—surprise! I came up again, and I was alive! I was wet and dazed but utterly alive! I was not only alive, but transformed, liberated, and renewed. I shook my head of wet hair and laughed. I had let go of everything and lived to tell about it. I was more alive than ever. I had tasted the joy ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).