A big brother

One day when I was nine, my older brother and I went for a swim. I hadn’t yet learned how to swim properly and could only do a little dog-paddling and floating on my back. My older brother was an excellent swimmer, which was why my parents had sent him along to keep an eye on me. He and I had argued that morning over something I can’t even remember, so I was annoyed that my parents insisted on him being there. I was determined to do my own thing and insisted on swimming laps by myself.

I started from the pool’s shallow end, and was floating along on my back for a while until it suddenly struck me that I might be nearing the end of the pool, and I worried about bumping my head on the pool wall. Thinking that I was just centimeters away from the edge, I flipped over. In fact I’d only reached about three-fourths of the pool’s length, but I already couldn’t reach the bottom. I panicked and started thrashing about wildly, which only served to get more water into my nose and mouth. Choking and struggling desperately, I felt two arms around my waist lifting me above water and taking me poolside.

“Are you okay?” my brother asked. I muttered something while sputtering out pool water, feeling embarrassed and expecting him to chide me. Instead, he quietly waited until I calmed down and then brought me home.

Looking back, my older brother and I weren’t particularly close. We squabbled over the smallest issues, like who had gotten a thicker slice of toast for breakfast. But the day he rescued me in the pool showed the strength of our sibling bond. In spite of all our differences, at the moment when I most needed him, he was at my side.

My brother’s love also served as an illustration of how Jesus, my spiritual Big Brother, is my ever-present help in time of trouble. Even when I turn away from Him in my pride and stubbornness, and argue with Him about His ways of working in my life, He doesn’t let my haughty pretensions of independence keep Him from putting His arms around me during times of danger and stress.