Life is like. . .
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Swimming. Remember Dory’s song in Finding Nemo? “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . .” Instead of a Blue Tang fish, picture a small child doggy paddling. You know how the beginner swimmer without any lessons often manages – just barely – to stay afloat? Her head stays above water, but the effort to do so takes tremendous fortitude. Arms and hands flail in a frantic trek to the safety of the pool steps, or a floaty, or solid ground. It can be brutal and exasperating to watch! The instructor stands at the sidelines holding his breath and rooting her on to safety – ready to jump in or throw out a life preserver if necessary.
Now picture the same scenario in our life with Christ. We start out doggy paddling, maybe even slipping under the waves and swallowing water as we frantically, desperately trying to live life in our own strength! All the while, Jesus is right there – cheering us on and ready to help.
As we mature and have a few lessons, we learn how to stay afloat, more easily travel the distance to our goal, and even enjoy it! Our Divine Swim Coach teaches us and directs us and encourages us.
A real water expert can tread water for a very long time. My lifeguard husband once won a challenge by treading water for two and a half hours! (without his hands, he would like me to add). The world record is around three and a half days! Phew! A feat only accomplished with skill and patience, and one that can come in handy when there is nowhere else to land. So it is in our Christian walk. There are times when it seems we are not going anywhere – no shore to swim to, no goal in sight. Our wise Instructor shows us how to stay afloat and patiently wait for a place to move towards. This is a good thing that requires maturity. But how long can we stay in that state? What I’m getting at is this: are many of us just treading water in our spiritual lives?
We’ve read the Word; we know our Savior; heaven is our goal. But we’re exhausted. Sure, our heads are above water, but the technique that has sustained us and kept us afloat has also worn us out. We need a break! We need time in the arms of the Instructor. We need a vision to move towards!
The quietness of quarantine time shed light on so much for so many. Before the stay-at-home order, my prayers were something like, “LORD, I need a break from serving the church and the children/childcare that I’m so passionate about. Show me how and give me strength.” I was also concerned about helping my daughter and son-in-law with their new baby. I worried about contributing to the family finances and finding time to pursue my life-long passion for writing. I wanted my husband to be home more often and wondered how I could balance time with friends, time to read and write and study, and still have fun!
Strangely enough, COVID-19 quarantine took care of all these issues!!! Obviously, many are struggling during this time. Fears loom over us and try to make a home in our hearts. What will happen to us, our economy, our world as we know it? - All valid concerns. These anxious thoughts, however, when they do take hold, also take a toll. We forget our training and frantically regress to doggy paddling!
OK. We stop, take a breath and remember our training. Ahh, back to treading water and waiting. That’s better. But, how long can we survive there? What if we don't expend all our energy doggy paddling? What if there’s an even easier way than treading water?
I humbly submit and passionately believe that Jesus knows our frailty and has a better way! After all, God created us with a mandate to rest, to regroup, to “be still and know that He is God.” Are we mature enough to trust in God and realize that our Creator, Jehovah Jireh, sustains us and directs us? If we lean on our own understanding, or on our jobs, or on the government, or on our strength, we will surely lose hope. I have felt a shift in the wind, a turning of the tide in my own understanding.
Even though I’ve been a student of The Lifeguard for 51 years, I have more to learn about swimming. Perhaps the reward for listening to Him is more than learning special strokes, and techniques, and being adept enough to tread water for days. Perhaps He is revealing another way to us in a fashion only He in His infinite wisdom could come up with. What if He is showing us a way that is exponentially more fulfilling? Could it be there is a way to just rest our feet on Him?
Picture a sinewy, muscular, young aquatic using his skills to tread water through calm seas. He’s comfortable. Well able. Then storms come. His fortitude falters. He floats on his back for a time, and then continues to tread water. Eventually, he comes to the end of his reserves of strength and fortitude. He desperately needs a place to rest. God says, “Stand up. Put your feet down. I’ll sustain you.” The circling legs pause. The arms go still. He listens. As he surrenders his body, his feet touch solid ground. Ah, what joy! Release. Safety. Comfort. The instructor had a foundation there the whole while. That is the place I am looking for. That is the God I am surrendering to.