This morning I received an email from a dear friend who’s struggling to keep her head above water. Wave after wave has crashed over her, making it hard for her to see the shore. She’s so exhausted, she’s started to wonder if perhaps she’ll remain lost at sea forever.
As I read the obstacles, struggles, fears and concerns she shared, I was reminded of my first open water swim. The water was cold and somehow the 500 meters across the lake seemed double to the twenty-lap equivalent in the pool. There weren’t any clearly marked lines painted along the bottom. Only a blur of feet pelting me in the head and face and the occasional buoy shrouded in fog. As wave after wave swept over me, filling my nose and mouth with murky lake water, it felt like I was fighting a loosing battle. For every exhausting stroke forward, the current seemed to take me two strokes back. And the harder the current pulled, the harder I kicked. Before long, my tense muscles killed my buoyancy. My legs sank, throwing my entire body off alignment. For about two minutes. Then, muscle memory kicked in and my body relaxed, allowing me to follow the gentle ebb and flow of the current.
The result? The minute I quit fighting and striving and pounding the water, my body started to relax. And a relaxed body floats much better than a tense one. Before long, I fell into a nice, smooth rhythm that carried me to shore with little effort on my part.
I think the same holds true for our spiritual life as well. We’ll hear God’s call. Maybe it’s too start a new Sunday school class or join a critique group, or maybe it’s to go back to school after ten, twenty or thirty years out. And all we can see are all the waves crashing against our face, pulling us back to shore. We begin to sink under a torrent of to-do lists and expectations, forgetting that the God who told us to jump in is ready and able to carry us to the shore. And he’s already got our course mapped out. He knows which way the wind is blowing, which way the waves will crash and which currents will carry us the farthest. It is our choice, then, to close our eyes and relax, allowing our bodies to float in whatever direction He carries us, knowing that He will not let us drown, or we can pummel against the waves, beating ourselves into a frenzy of exhaustion as we fight against the current.
The funny thing is, ten (or twenty or thirty, God only knows) years from now we’ll end up in the same place–standing on the shore looking back over God’s faithfulness, grateful for the lessons learned along the way. The question is, what will our condition be once we arrive? Exhausted from a life of striving or peacefully content after having taken the ride of our lives?
I am amused to find this post a perfect example. Last night and this morning I struggled to come up with some amazing article to add to my blog today. What’d I come up with? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Finally, I decided to let it go. After all, wracking an empty brain is a waste of time. And then this morning, in God’s timing, I received my email that triggered a head full of words. In an instant, without any brainstorming or striving, I knew exactly what I was to write. And I let the gently flowing current do the rest.