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John Simmons

What you are about to read is quite possibly the most emotional experience I have ever written about and if you will take the time to read, I truly believe you will see God in a very different light in relation to your struggles. I pray that this blesses your heart as much as this encounter truly impacted me.
Ryker is such a boy through and through. When he comes across a mud puddle he is ready to dive bomb into it. When he happens upon a tree inviting him to climb it, with it’s low hanging branches, he doesn’t hesitate accepting its invitation. He is not afraid of the muddiest puddle or the tallest obstacle. He will attack it head-on with pure joy.
I’ll never forget the first time I watched him climb across the monkey bars by himself. The whole time his eyes were fixated on me while I cheered him on and once he conquered it he swung off it with so much confidence. He would run over and give me a high five and he would do it again. It was kind of funny because when I was a young boy I was never strong enough to do that and here is my son doing it at that time four years old. He would scale across them like they were nothing. The more I would root for him, the more he would grow confident. His entire person changed, why? Because my praise towards him was elevating him.
Ryker is so much like me in this area of life. My son too loves it when he is praised. Over the course of the summer, we felt it would be a good idea for Ryker to start taking swimming classes. To be honest he was very excited and so was Janell and I as parents. This was to be his first activity with others he didn’t know from Adam and we were really looking forward to just see how he would do. His first day he did so well. The instructor time and time again would take him and immediately he was attempting to float on his back and paddle with his feet. In my eyes, it seemed as if he was a natural. The first day was terrific and went better than I could have imagined.
Things would change a few short days later. Ryker was building trust with the instructors and right before that trust was rooted in his heart the instructor would dunk him. This, in turn, would really catch him off guard. Again, at the very end, they required the kids to jump in to which Ryker happily obliged. Except for this time they didn’t catch him and let him go completely under. This breached his trust beyond repair and now fear ruled his heart not only to the instructor but even the water filled him with fear. This would be a constant struggle from this point forward for the rest of his remaining classes. He was so afraid of the water that this would make baths and shower difficult, even going into the neighbor’s pool.
The next week would come and I knew in my mind I could get him to be confident and not be afraid. It was Monday, my day off, Janell was at work and it almost seemed like divine providence. Ryker was gonna dominate today and I reassured him that he was capable of doing so and that there was no need to be afraid. By the time we arrived at the school, he was fired up and so was I. We changed him into his swimming trunks and we both walked out to meet his instructor.
His countenance immediately changed once our presence left the locker room. I “handed” him to his instructor and I went and sat down and watched. The fired-up kid was gone and all that remained was little boy afraid as everyone else jumped in. I was only able to watch this for about ten minutes before I realized that we needed to go elsewhere so I could talk to him. I was by no means disappointed, honestly, I was afraid to even jump off a diving board until I turned thirteen. I’ll never forget that moment when I actually did it. It was my birthday, at Park Hills public pool, and every friend and relative there cheered me on. Once I jumped in it was such a victory, a victory that would lead me to be so fearless you couldn’t get me away from the diving board from that point on.
But in the moment, this was a Ryker in which I had honestly never seen. His head was down the whole time showing no desire to even look at me, much less say anything. I was completely clueless as to what to do. That is until God would speak to me.

“John, he fears he has disappointed you.”

Tears began to flow down my face and I asked him, and I asked him that very question. I’ll never forget how he responded and it broke me beyond belief. He turned his head, still partially down. His eyes, swollen and tear-filled, would come in contact with mine and with the small bob of his head he said yes. It wrecked my heart like a deer stricken by the headlights of a tractor-trailer just before it blew it to pieces.

“Are you serious Lord?”, I said these words aloud, fortunately, there was no one else there in the locker room. At this point, I was totally clueless as what to do next.

“Do you not remember that this was you? Do what I did with you son. You know my love for you isn’t based on performance. Show him the same.”

Without hesitation, I took him to my chest and embraced him. I poured a wellspring of affirmation into his heart. My love isn’t going anywhere and that it does not matter what you do and do not do. I would say this over and over to him and soon that boy once stricken with shame showed a tiny grin with eyes filled with tears. Though the fear ruled him this time, he was able to rest in his loving fathers embrace. His daddy loved him regardless of his performance.
Someone out there needs to hear this. But you feel as if the life you have lived God has written you off because of your performance. Like God’s love is teetering and soon it is gonna lose its balance and fall away. God does not base His love on anything other than the simple fact that He is love and that you dear child are the object of this love. You always have been and will forever be the apple of His eye. We know this through Jesus, who, with you in mind, was the sole reason He would take up for Himself a body and subject it to death and overcome. He would overcome it for the simple fact that He overcoming death promises us as partakers of this victory.

Yes, when God looks at you it is with an eternity of Love. Unchanging, unfailing, never ending Love.

I pray this blesses you.


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