Exorcism

It was one of those mornings yesterday, one of those mornings where an irritable, surly spirit takes hold and won’t let go. I wanted to be left alone to stare into the computer or linger over a cup of coffee. But, with six noisy children, it was not to be.

They were driving me nuts. After several rainy days they had a lot of energy to burn.

It was Saturday morning, when we indulge their insatiable desire for television and video games, and I was ready to kill one of them. It really didn’t matter which one; just the next one who shouted about something, or complained, or started an argument with a sibling, even one who was too loudly enjoying a video game.

My patience for their childhood itself was at a low ebb. It was as if I was possessed by an evil spirit.

So, we went swimming. We’d not been swimming as a family since we arrived here in Scotland, but we needed to get out of the house. We thought about going to the museum in Glasgow, but Lisa suggested swimming might be good to use up some of their excess energy.

We pulled their swimsuits from the bottom of the bags we packed in the States and loaded up the car.

At the pool, I patiently explained the drill: we go in and pay, then we take the 50p piece I asked you to bring, that’s for the lockers, then you step into one of the changing rooms, then you stand under the shower for a few minutes, then you head for the water.

“What do we do with our clothes?”

“They go in the lockers.”

“How do the lockers work?”

“I’ll show you, just don’t worry about it.”

“Why do we have to take a shower?”

“Look, just do it. Work with me here,” I snapped.

So, we made it to the pool.

“Dad can you tighten up these goggles? Dad, can I swim in the deep end? Dad, where’s the toilet? Dad, David splashed me. Dad, can you hold my glasses?”

“Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad…”

I wasn’t getting the space I needed, but it didn’t stop Johnny from having fun. He burned enough energy for everyone else put together. He was fearless to the point of reckless endangerment, throwing himself off the side whether there was anyone to catch him or not, sliding down the slide, chucking the kick boards at other children, leaping off the top of the slide, running, slipping, banging his head on the deck.

“No, John, walk son, don’t run.”

He imbibed all the pool water his little belly could hold and he was loving every minute of it.

And, as our fingers wrinkled and we all started shivering it was as if the demons were slowly cast out. One at a time they were quietly drowned in the waters of the pool as the elusive peace of Christ gradually took their place.

Moods come and go and we make a mistake when we judge the measure of our faithfulness by the way we feel. Our feelings wax and wane like the tides, but Christ is constant. And on those days when I feel the least faithful and the least willing to dole out any Christian charity, I am most grateful that it is His faithfulness and not my own by which I will be judged.

He holds me more closely than I can even think about holding Him, and it is good, very good.

As we got dressed, shivering in the changing rooms, Johnny looked at his hands and, like a good Glaswegian, created a word for the occasion, “Dad, my fingers are all scrumpled up.”

“Yes, son, mine too, mine too,” I said with the first smile of the day.

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