When I was little we had yearly church camps at a campsite in North Georgia, and every afternoon there we would have swimming time at the lake. There was a dock that went around one section of the lake, dividing between the shallow area and the deep, and the only way to be allowed to swim in the deep section was to first pass The Test. The Test was to be able to swim out to a small floating dock that was a little distance away, and then back to shore. It probably wasn’t all that far, but to my little girl eyes it was huge. Each year I practiced and practiced swimming so I could pass The Test and hang out with the Big Kids in the deep end. Finally one year I had the courage to try for real.
I didn’t like going under the water, especially in a lake (still don’t...), so I decided to doggy-paddle all the way. It seemed to me to take forever. It probably seemed that way to the lifeguard, too. Have you ever watched a 10-yr-old dog-paddle...? Anyway, I remember finally reaching the floating dock and thinking it wasn’t so bad - until I had to turn around and doggy-paddle all the way back to shore. THAT was the kicker. About halfway back I felt like, for all my kicking and hand paddling, I wasn’t getting anywhere. The floating dock was a ways behind me, but the shore didn’t seem any closer. I was just out there, floating, seemingly going nowhere in the middle of this water, losing my strength and my will. Everyone watching was shouting encouragement, and that helped me to keep going, until finally my kicking feet (which were by degrees getting lower and kicking slower, almost to the point of just hanging there) hit the lake bottom, and I realized I had made it to a place where I could stand and walk to the shore.
It was the coolest feeling when I finally got to get in the water on the other side of the dividing dock, the Big Kid side, and swim out in the deep end.
Living life feels like that to me sometimes - knowing I’m heading out on a path God has for me, and trying my hardest to ‘get there’, but feeling like I’m not getting anywhere; knowing in my head that my feet keep taking steps, but sometimes finding it hard to believe I’m any closer to reaching the goal. That’s when my faith has to kick in, and I just have to keep walking, no matter what it feels like - or DOESN’T feel like, for that matter.
If we just keep going, even when we’re tired and out of strength, and all we see is the desert sand around us seemingly stretching for miles - after a time we will start seeing little changes, evidences that we are getting somewhere, a little whiff of fresher air or patches of greener grass, and we’ll know the other side is coming. And sometimes we’ll be able to look around us and see with clarity what God has been doing all along, where He’s been leading us - and in those moments we can breathe deeply and smile.
So, take heart and “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)