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The high dive

By Mike Ruffin During my boyhood, this time of year was all about going to the Barnesville swimming pool, which was located about where the Gordon Highlanders now play baseball. I’d join many others in purchasing an annual pass and using the laminating machine outside of Carter’s Drug Store to render it waterproof. I’d use it to gain admission to the pool every blessed day (except when I had a Little League game that night, because the coaches said that swimming tired you out too much). I’d enjoy snow cones, frozen candy bars and Cokes. I’d saunter up to the concession stand like it was a bar (I’d seen such things on television) and order a ‘Suicide’ – a mixture of Coke, Sprite, Fanta Grape and Fanta Orange. It was my first mixed drink. Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia’ and Rare Earth’s ‘Get Ready’ repeatedly blared from the jukebox. Being an 11, almost 12-year-old boy, I’d marvel at the high school and college girls. And they were marvelous. It was 1970, so do the math – you know who you were ‘¦ I’d even spend a little time in the pool. The Barnesville pool had two diving boards – the low dive and the high dive. I eventually worked up the courage to jump – not dive, mind you, because I’d look silly diving while holding my nose – off the low board, but I never managed to take the deathdefying plunge from the high dive. I thereby cost myself some fun and some memories. Looking back, I wish I’d jumped off the high dive. I’ve come to realize that, when it comes to swimming in the Christian pool, there are all kinds of people. Let’s splash some water around and see what I mean. Do you practice ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?’ Then you’re just sitting on the edge of the pool, maybe occasionally sticking your big toe in. Do you refrain from striking back when someone harms or insults you? Then you’re becoming a pretty good swimmer. Do you, in addition to refraining from striking back when people harm or insult you, also stand your ground in a way that forces them to come to terms with who they are and what they’re doing, even if it means taking more hurt onto yourself? Then you’re diving off the low dive. Do you actually and legitimately love your enemies? Do you love them enough to give yourself up for them? Do you love them enough to pray for them in ways that put their real needs ahead of yours? Then you’re diving off the high dive. Congratulations! I still wish I had the guts to do that. Mike Ruffin is a writer, editor, and preacher who grew up in Barnesville. He has still never jumped from a high dive. He did, however, once go down the second highest water slide at Disney World’s Blizzard Beach, after which he decided to spend the rest of the day floating lazily and safely on Cross Country Creek.

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