“You’re almost there! Keep going… Keep going…. You’re almost there!”
I watched from the side of the pool as the swimming instructor encouraged my four-year-old daughter to keep swimming toward her.
What struck me was that she didn’t stay in place and wait for her. She kept moving a little further away urging my daughter to persevere, to stretch herself, to press on and maximize what she could do.
I doubt my little girl even recognized that she was now in the deep end of the pool. She was just focused on listening to the encouraging voice and seeing the arms that were outstretched towards her, urging her on.
There’s a clear message in this for all of us. I thought about how our heavenly father does this for us. He wants to see us stretch and grow and to maximize who He wants us to be. His arms are always open wide, encouraging, urging us forward.
It’s impossible for us to stay stationary for very long. We are ultimately either pressing ahead or drifting backward. Many days it feels like it’s just about keeping our heads above water. How many times do we want to give up?
- To quit trying in the marriage that just doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
- To quit fighting the addiction that’s stealing our life away.
- To quit battling our children’s defiance with loving discipline because it’s easier to just give in.
- To stop leading the small group at your church because it takes too much time and you’re not seeing the results you envisioned.
There have been all kinds of things I’ve quit over the years, some that I should have and some that I shouldn’t. I have many days now that I want to quit as well. The diagnosis of terminal cancer seems insurmountable some days. Over the last two or three weeks as I have felt progressively unwell, I want to quit fighting fear and just give in to self-pity. I want to quit spending time with Well Christian Woman because ‘what difference can I make anyway?’
It’s easy to justify all the reasons to quit. We all do it. We’re too tired today. We’re too busy. We need to spend time with our family. Most of our reasons are good reasons, but what if we lift our head out of the water long enough to see the outstretched arms of Jesus and hear his loving voice telling us to keep going… You’re almost there… Keep going!
Paul was able to hear Christ’s voice above the din of whatever circumstances he found himself in. Those circumstances included false accusations, imprisonment, beatings, shipwrecks, and being pelted with rocks until his attackers thought he was dead. Despite all of that, he was able to proclaim what he does in Philippians 3:12-14:
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12-14
My typical mental response to this is “Well, I’m just not Paul.”
But none of us are ‘Paul’ on our own. That is the point. When we feel like we’re not strong enough or our faith isn’t big enough, we need to hear the voice that still urges us onward through whatever our circumstances.
We need to let God lift our head and press on towards Him and how He’s called us to live out each day.