Lily loves water slides. She has no fear…and so I have to have fear for her. Or, you might say I have to be brave for her. After climbing four flights of stairs during our recent trip to a small water park, there were two choices — the benign green slide, which was a nice, well-lit, moderately fast slide — not scary at all. The other slide was a red slide, which was a dark tunnel plunging into unknown depths at unknown speeds. Which slide did six-year-old Lily want to go down? Why, the red slide, of course.
And so this mom told her to let me go down first and see how fast and how dark it really is. This mom, who is scared of the dark and of heights and of going fast.
I went down that red slide, and it was really dark and really fast and really breath-taking. For me. At the same time, I thought it was not too scary for my brave Lily. And she went down the dark, scary red slide several times, shrieking with delight as she entered the darkness.
As we were walking down the hallway back to our hotel room, we were talking about that red slide. It was so dark that you couldn’t see where you were going, which is what scared me. My dad asked Lily why the red slide didn’t scare her. She said, “I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew where I was going to end up.”
My father, the pastor, told Lily he’d have to remember that for a sermon.
Growing up, my sisters and brother and I were always afraid that we would become a sermon illustration. What would Dad share about us with the whole congregation? As we became teens, we dreaded being part of the sermon more than ever. Even as adults, we never know what Dad’s sermons will bring up. One Mother’s Day, I was sitting with my new boyfriend in the pew turning red with embarrassment as my preacher father wondered out loud when his daughter might become a mother. That boyfriend stuck with me anyway and ended up marrying me.
This New Year’s Eve, Dad was the guest preacher at a small church, and we all attended the service. He told us about the young girl hit by a car who didn’t deserve to die; about the man with cancer who shouldn’t have died from such a horrible disease; about how death seems to march on and on. How even Jesus died a horrible death, and death goes on…but wait. Because Jesus died for us, death does not go on and on.
Then he told the story about Lily and the red slide. About how she was not afraid of that dark tunnel because even though she didn’t know where she was going, she knew where she was going to end up.
As Dad was preaching this story about her, Lily looked at me, and her face shone in delight. She beamed. Unlike her mother, her aunts and her uncle, there was no embarrassment.
That look…the huge smile on Lily’s face is the smile I hope is on my face, when I die. Because I know where I’m going to end up.
My cousin recorded Lily the first time she came down the red slide. You can hear Lily’s grandpa laughing in the background.
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Daughter of a preacher man,