Our family consists of my husband, our two boys, one daughter, two dogs and myself. We all have 'our things' that we do to keep us busy and out of trouble. My husband (who desires to remain nameless) is a very smart man, I mean he did marry me. But besides that, he is really one of the smartest people that I know and the only one I know that makes spreadsheets for fun. He also loves the outdoors and anything that comes with it. Hunting, fishing, hiking, you name it, if it's outdoors he will like it. Our two boys join him in his outdoor adventures whenever they can and they all come back dirty, smelly, insect bitten and extremely happy. It's what they do. Our oldest is a volunteer firefighter and you would think that as a mother that would make me a nervous wreck, it actually doesn't. I'm not sure why, I think it's because I worry more about the little things than I do the life threatening ones. Anyway, it's what he does. Our middle child plays tennis, lots and lots and lots of tennis. He isn't half bad at it either if I do say so myself and he always has the best tan in the family when summer rolls around. It's what he does. Our youngest is our only girl. You might think that she has a princess complex because of her lone genderness but that is the farthest thing from the truth. She loves music and books and would be happy if she could do both all day long. Unfortunately for her, she has mother who insists that she pick something active as well so she picked swimming. And even though it isn't her first choice of what to do with her time, she does great at it and seems to enjoy it. It's what she does. I would tell you what our two dogs do but I think you probably have a pretty good idea of their daily activities. It's what all dogs do.
So, I tell you all this to lead to the point of this story. As you may know, if you are into swimming then you also are into swim meets, whether you want to be or not. I only say that because it is 150 degrees with 100 percent humidity in school natatoriums and so there are times when 'not' would be a cooler option. But on this particular swim meet I was very glad to be there because besides seeing my sweet daughter swim her heart out, I also saw something that made me really think. I did see a few very disturbing tattoos that day that made me think, but that is a story for a different day. If you aren't familiar with middle school swim meets let me give you a little background. Most of the kids who try out are able to make the team and when it comes time for meets, they have what they call 'exhibition' races. That just means that all the kids get to swim and points are only earned for the team from the non exhibition races. With that being said, you see both ends of the ability spectrum. There are some kids that swim year round and participate in state wide competitions and others who have never done anything but doggie paddle and play marco polo in the pool before joining the school team.
As I sat there and watched both ends of the ability spectrum put their hearts into each race, something amazing struck me, luckily it was something other than the smell of my own sweat seeping out of my pores due to the unbreathable heat and humidity. The kids who had lots of practice and drive and learned skills, glided through the water with only the end of the pool in sight. Their entrance into the pool was graceful and advantageous. Their strokes were contemplated and deliberate. They knew where to swim and when to breath and what form to use. They were using everything that they had practiced and learned to get the best time possible. And although it looked so easy, it came to them only after lots of hard work and motivation. On the flip side were those kids who smacked into the water, you know, when everybody in the stands gasps in pain for the poor guy. They flail about not really moving but expending so much energy that they are exhausted before they get half way down the lane. They haven't mastered the strokes, they may not even know what they are called. Their breathing is sporadic at best and you wait expectantly for the coach to jump in and save them. All the other swimmers have finished and then those few marco polo players are bringing up the rear, crowds are cheering them on and they are still flailing about trying to get their bodies to move in the right direction.
I think that you know where I am going with this. Some people make their faith look so easy. They stride through life with these great dives and beautiful strokes, they hardly look like they are working at it. They know just what to say and when to say it. They look so graceful during tough times and hardly flinch when faced with an obstacle. They are somehow able to love people that are unlovable and are patient in times when impatience is embraced. Then, you have the flailer. They are walking around saying "marco? marco? marco?" with a polo no where to be found. They hit a faith speed bump the minute they walk out their door. They expend way more energy just getting by then they ever need to and beg to get out of the spiritual pool when they are only halfway through. They know what is expected of them but have no idea how to make that expectation work. So how do we get from a flailer in our faith to Michael Phelps kinda faith? Here is what Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that really sums it up. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it (it being perfection in Christ), but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Phil 3:13-14. This verse says it all, forget the past, look ahead! In other words, forget that you swam exhibition and barely finished on the last race. Get back in the pool, practice your strokes, talk to swimmers who get it, practice your strokes, spend time learning, practice your strokes. Get it? Don't quit, don't give up, don't call it a day. Your prize at the end of this race that we call life is bigger than any blue ribbon or medal or trophy. It's worth more than gold or silver. t's a heavenly prize, a prize we can't even fathom. A prize so great at the end, that the race gets easier each time you jump in. So jump in, get wet, learn from your mistakes and move on just don't give up because believe it or not, those graceful swimmers were once flailers. Can't wait to see you at the finish line!