Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gainer or Loser?

A "gainer" is a type of dive in which the diver does a backwards flip while his body is going forward. The diver faces the water, springs forward off the diving board, and the movement of his body continues progressing forward. Yet, while moving forward in the air, the diver reverses his momentum, causing his body to do a back flip while progressing forward.

The only difficult part of this maneuver is convincing your mind that such a thing makes sense. Of course, there is also the "trial and error" period that can be painful until the dive is perfected.

I have seen people try this dive who were over-anxious about getting the back flip motion going a millisecond after their toes left the board instead of waiting until they got to the top of their jump. Ouch! Tossing your head back too soon before clearing the diving board area can give you a nasty headache.

The other mistake I have seen people make is freezing up or losing their bearings before they finish the backward rotation. Ouch again! Faces, bellies, and backs make an awful popping noise when they hit the water like a bulldog chasing a parked car. Side effects include redness, occasional swelling, a serious stinging sensation, laughter from the pool rats, and momentary embarrassment.

My advice? 1) Wear a shirt and a ski mask until you get the gainer perfected. 2) Learn this dive when you're young. Adults, don't try this at home.

My daughter was surprised to see her 47-year-old dad do a gainer the other day. I wasn't suprised that I could do the gainer. I was more concerned about my ancient knees cooperating at the impact of the bounce. But the springiness...springyness...oy... (I feel the need to introduce a new word). But the sprength of the limber diving board took a great deal of pressure off my old-man knees and I got the bounce I needed.

I felt like a kid again!

A gainer at a swimming pool is to be celebrated. But what about when a Christian or a church does a gainer? What do we do when we are moving forward in Christ and the momentum of the Holy Spirit of God is launching us unto new heights, and we foolishly give in to the temptation to reverse our motion?

It is a guarantee that every time a believer or body of believers is making great leaps of spiritual progress, the enemy gets busy in an effort to stop or slow down the progress. He pulls out all the stops. He whispers doubt into the heart and pride into the head to convince us to reverse our motion.

When the devil is successful in convincing us to gainer, we end up a loser. A messy "splat" is heard and felt. It is heart-wrenching.

Observers sit poolside and turn to one another in confusion, "What are they doing? They were going in the right direction. Why did they stop? Why did they try to go back?"

God's people have always struggled with this. A few days after the Israelites were delivered from the bondage of 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians, gainer-whining could be heard among the masses. In nasal-sounding tones that are reminiscent of (other people's) kids in the back seat of the family car, the Israelites whined, "We want to go ba-a-a-ack to Egypt."

Those sitting by the Red Sea pool leaned toward one another and said, "They want to go back? God just set them free from slavery and is leading them to the Promised Land --- and they want to go back?"

We do. We all do. We gainer from time to time. But what do we do when our gainer leaves us feeling like a loser? We go back to the sprength of the One who lifted us before! His grace and forgiveness heals the pain of our splat.

Christianity is a second-chance sport. Failure isn't final. "One-and-done" isn't the way God operates.

Come on in...the water's fine.
Perry Crisp

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