First Time

Monday afternoon I did it—took the new kayak into the ocean for the First Time. What did I learn?

Last year was my First Time to paddle the ocean. Loved it! Lost a pair of sunglasses trying to get out once, but otherwise it was great. Scuppers in this new kayak allow in-washing water to drain. Nice!—no more sitting in my own sea. But I am positioned higher in this boat, so it feels less stable. Incautious angling into swells and rough waves will more easily dunk me into the drink.

First Times accost us throughout life. Our first step, first bike ride, first school day, first car, first kiss. I remember the first time I kissed Glenna. It was nice, but I drove home with the taste of lip­stick on my mouth. Wasn’t expecting that. A church has First Times, too. They are the only way we grow—individually or corporately.

Because we have no experience with them, First Times often excite or unnerve as they approach; we observe their coming with either delight or dread. But unless we wish to miss life, growth, and progress, when the right First Times beckon, we wel­come them as friends—particularly if we sense that the Lord himself is opening this dreadful door before us. Then we buck up, believe, and bolt in.

God’s people do not always react this way when First Time opportunities approach. It would be better if we did. The First (and only) Time the Lord invited Peter to walk on water, the apostle was perfectly safe. But he didn’t think so as he watched the waves, and so sank. The First Time God invited Israel to occupy her Promised Land the nation heeded fears instead. That doubting generation wandered and died, until their children were graciously offered a Second Chance. Sometimes what derails us is not disbelief, but downright disobedience. The First Time Jonah was commanded to warn Nineveh, he took off for Tarshish. Didn’t do him much good. After three days in a fish’s guts he was more willing to obey the Second Time God called.

Some First Times are more crucial than others. These require preparation before we embrace them, or they us. With sky diving, it is usually best to get it right the First Time. Same with dying. Most of us only get one shot at it. Better to be ready and do it well.

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