Waterslides and the Bread of Life (John 6:41-59)

A waterslide in the summertime has become nearly as American as baseball and apple pie.  There is something just plain fun about climbing to the top of a large slide and voluntarily crossing over the threshold of no return.  If you have never experienced the thrill of allowing gravity to turn you into a human missile and pull you down a wet, fiberglass path, sloshing around corners and ending up in a raging pool with water up your nose, you should be in danger of losing your citizenship.

Yes, I meant to say citizenship!

In our family, the waterslide is a rite of passage from the toddler stage to the kid stage of life.  Alexa made her move a few years ago and now Sophia was ready for the transition.  This happened a few days ago, while in Minnesota we (Leigh-Ann, Alexa, Sophia and I) went with my parents and sisters family to the local amusement park.  After laying some rubber down at the go-cart track we were all ready to cool off on the water slide.  With five kids and an average age of 4.6 climbing to the top of the 50 foot high slide, we were in for an adventure.

Sophia was bursting with bravery as she climbed the steps holding Grandpa’s hand.  I could almost hear the thoughts going through her mind…I will not be scared…I will not be scared….I will not be scared.  Ok, I’m scared!  By now we are at the top and she stubbornly holds on to Grandpa’s hand and insists on going down with him.  I wasn’t going to ruin the moment, although I was kind of hoping she would want to come with me on her maiden voyage down the water slide.

I accepted the inevitable and took my three year old nephew.  After being flushed down at a high rate of speed and dumped out into violent water below, I found myself fighting for my life under water, trying to hold my nephew above water while I swallowed water like a human sump pump.   I recovered just in time to drop him off at the edge of the pool and then I saw them…Grandpa and Sophia barreling down the slide.  Sophia had a look of terror on her face that will be etched in my mind forever.  And then it happened, arms and legs flailing, Grandpa and Sophie are being torpedoed through the water.  In an instant they surfaced and Sophie was not happy.

After a little coaxing she finally decided to give it one more try—this time with me.  We walked to the top of the stairs and she held a death grip on my hand.  When we sat down on the slide she held so tight I could barely turn her around.  Once on the slide it was all business…Sophie had one thing on her mind….hold on to me.  I began to worry what would happen if I lost my footing at the bottom and we both went under for a second.  This could ruin her trust for life.  Here we are sliding down and I am deep in thought wondering what will happen if I fail my three year old.  Those thoughts were shoved aside by the fact that we were nearing the final corner before the “pool of lost trust.”  And then it happened, almost like a mirage, Grandpa was waiting for the handoff in the pool…I was just strong enough to pass her off above the water before going under.  Yes, “hero” is one word that came to mind….After coming out of the water, I immediately saw that she had the biggest grin possible on her face and she couldn’t wait to do it again.  Leigh-Ann said that every time she came to the bottom she had a look of horror on her face and then Grandpa rescued her and then she wanted to do it again.

Sophia had no idea that the water was only four feet deep and the worst thing that could happen would be a little water up her nose.  All she knew was that the water was over her head, it was moving fast and she was scared.  When she saw Grandpa waiting to rescue her from the dangerous water she could cope.

Life is sometimes like this waterslide.  We are moving out of control at a fast rate of speed.  The pool we are heading for looks very scary.  Without a strong person to catch us when we hit the bottom we feel we will die.  All we can think about is being trapped under the water—the worst case scenario.

For most of us this is not our first time down the waterslide of life.  We are familiar with more bills than income; we have dealt with regret from a relationship, we know how it feels to be unemployed, we have all worried about an unknown future,… the list could go on.  Somehow, life always has seemed to come together at the last possible moment and then things are somehow better for a period of time.  It is the moment that we are hurling out of control that God seems so far away, yet it is at this time that He is waiting at the bottom to rescue us from imminent danger.

As I have been meditating on the passage for this week’s message found in John 6:41-59 some parallel thoughts have come to mind.  This is part two of the Bread of Life discourse.  Jesus has fed the five thousand and calmed the storm.  Now he is explaining that He has come to do much more than provide for physical needs…He is the Bread of Life.  He gives a new satisfaction in this life and eternal safety in the life to come.  No matter how difficult the situation or how impossible life may seem, Jesus is always waiting for us with open arms.

I hope you will be able to join us this Sunday for the service at 10:45am.  If you cannot attend it will be posted on the web site www.newlifekc.org under resources.  As always, I invite you to join me in praying for God to be present and to work in each of our lives.

I hope you have a “New Life” day….the way Life is meant to be!!!



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