A heart like His

Through a simple encounter with a child, the heart of God is revealed. Photo: Photo: In His Wakes

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla., May 17, 2012 — At one of our In His Wakes events, I was pulling a knee boarder when a young boy ran to the edge of the water and yelled, “Can I ride in the boat and help?”

I was in need of a rope handler to keep the rope from getting tangled in the propeller as I came in and out of the shore to pick up new riders, so I told him to hop aboard. When the boy got in the boat I introduced myself and asked him his name.

“Hi, I’m Drew,” he replied.

I gave Drew some instruction as to what I needed him to do. I also gave him some safety tips to keep him safe during our journey. He obeyed every command to the best of his ability with both excitement and enthusiasm. I smiled as I watched him run to the back of the boat and pull the rope in with every bit of strength and energy he had in his small frame.

After a few minutes I said, “Drew, thank you so much for being willing to ride in the boat and help me.”

“Of course!” he replied. “I love boats and I love the water. This is where I want to be!”

After we pulled the last child on the kneeboard I asked Drew if he wanted to ride the kneeboard for a moment. I could sense he was about to explode with eagerness to get back on the water but he contained himself and said, “I’ve already had a turn.”

“That’s OK,” I said. “It will be your reward for helping me.”

His face beamed with the biggest smile I had ever seen.

“Really?  I can go again?” He asked.

“Sure!” I replied.

Drew hopped out of the back of the boat, got situated on the board, and yelled for me to go. I took off and watched with joy as this young boy climbed up on his knees and began to cut back and forth on the board. I thought he was an experienced rider, only to find out later that he had never ridden before our event.

After a couple of minutes, I stopped the boat and said, “Drew, why don’t you try a trick on the board…perhaps a 180 or a 360.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

I shut down the engine and showed him what I meant. I then explained to Drew how to pull his arms in and rotate the board around to do these tricks.

“Ok, I’ll try!” he said with excitement.

After getting up on the board, Drew got a serious look on his face and attempted what I had shown him. He fell on his first attempt.

When I turned the boat back around to get him I was expecting to pick up a disappointed child. But to my surprise Drew laughed out loud and said, “I tried Miss Kristi! I didn’t make it, but I tried!”

“You did great Drew!” I encouraged him. Then I gave him instructions on how to correct his mistake.

Drew tried these tricks a few more times getting closer to completing the trick each time. But after a few minutes I got a radio call from our event director, Nate Miller.

“Kristi, are you coming back to shore anytime soon?” Nate joked. “I got kids complaining that you are giving that child more time than they got on the water.”

I knew that call would eventually come, but I was having so much fun with Drew I just figured I’d stay out there until I got called in! It is so rare that you find a person eager to help others, eager to give of their energy and time, willing to listen to instruction, willing to try new things, and willing to persevere through the falls. I was having the time of my life! I could have stayed out there with Drew all day. Just being in his presence brought joy to my heart and made me want to share my heart with him, my heart of wisdom about water sports! I also wanted to give him the desire of his heart, to kneeboard, as that in itself brought me joy.

As I watched Drew climb back on the board God began to show me something about Himself, about His character. For many years of my life I viewed God as a harsh God constantly disappointed in me. I’ve thought of Him as a tough judge waiting with eagerness to come down on me when I make mistakes. I’ve even felt I had to beg him for the things I wanted in life.

But as I spent time on the water with this amazing child God showed me that my perception of Him and His relationship with His children has been distorted. Through these few moments on the water I finally got a glimpse of truth as I realized that just as I was enjoying being with Drew, God enjoys spending time with me. Just as I was enjoying blessing Drew and teaching him new things, God enjoys blessing me and sharing His heart with me so that I can go higher and higher in Him.

I realized that just as I wasn’t disappointed in Drew for falling, God isn’t disappointed in me when I fall. He is just thrilled when His child runs to Him and asks, “Can I come on the journey with You, God?” He is blessed beyond measure when He meets a child who is open to listen, eager to learn, and willing to try. When God finds someone like that His greatest desire is to bless our socks off by giving us His time, His wisdom, and His blessings.

How thankful I am for my encounter with Drew so that God could remind me that He loves me and takes great pleasure in me, as He does you. How thankful I am that God isn’t looking for perfection but rather a heart that is willing, a heart that says, “Look God, I tried! I didn’t get it right the first time, but I tried and I’m willing to try again, just tell me what to do!”

That’s the kind of heart God will pour out His blessings upon and use to touch this world.


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Kristi Overton-Johnson

 

As a professional water skier for over 20 years and the World Record Holder in women’s slalom from 1992-2010, Kristi Overton Johnson has taken to the waters of the world with passion and perseverance. Kristi began her waterskiing career at the age of 4 and turned professional at 13. For 15 years, Kristi dominated women’s slalom, accumulating 80 professional wins and capturing more number one world rankings than any other female skier in history.
Before retiring from professional sports, Kristi founded a non-profit water sports ministry In His Wakes. Since its inception, In His Wakes has touched the lives of over 10,000 at-risk youth across the nation and internationally. This unique ministry brings hope, healing and encouragement through the avenue of water sports and through the message of God's love.
For years, Kristi has travelled nationally and internationally as a faith-based motivational speaker encouraging people through her life experiences as an athlete, wife, mother and ministry leader. Kristi also ministers through song and through her gift as a writer. In Running the Course, her first book, she wrote about her experiences as a top professional athlete and how through faith she found purpose for her life. 
Although Kristi is committed to helping others achieve their God-given destinies, she realizes that her first priority is her family. Kristi has been married to best friend Tim Johnson since 1994. Tim and Kristi have three children, the youngest of which were both adopted from Russia in 2004. They reside in North Florida where they raise their family and serve their community through Kristi Overton Johnson Ministries

Contact Kristi Overton-Johnson

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