Monday, May 2, 2011

Learning to Swim One Stroke at a Time

Matthew 14:30

I don’t think Peter knew how to swim, or even tread water, for that matter.

Considering he was a fisherman and spent his days on the deep waters casting and pulling his nets, there is some irony behind that thought.  If you merely look at the verse at face value, that’s what it appears to be saying.  But one needs to dig deeper to find its hidden message.  Peter didn’t know how to swim and needed a immediate lesson or two as he felt himself sinking below the water’s stormy surface.  And the Hand that helped him up was just the one to teach him.

Today is one of those days where I, too, have forgotten how to swim.  I thought I had stepped out of the safety of my boat in faith Sunday and with my eyes fixed fast on my Savior, only to have them diverted away from Him for a brief moment.  And down I went.

All it took for me to start sinking was a comment made by another.  It may have been said in jest, I’m not sure, but it was uttered quickly with no attempt to reveal the story behind it. The 60 or more strangers who heard it and were not privy to the whole story were left to create their own ideas about my husband and myself.  Embarrassment flooded my face, I’m sure, as a a few laughed uncomfortably.

Later, while in the process of offering myself in service, the same person took another precise cut at my heart with his sharpened blade of self-perceived authority and abrupt approach.  I felt as though my lungs were taking on water, and I was only able to mumble a short reply of “Oh” as he turned his back on me a second time and walked away with no explanation.

Like a rock, I started sinking towards the bottom, and that's where I found myself this morning.  It was my turn to be given the Hand up and a lesson or two on the necessity of knowing how to swim through the storms of life.

It is moments like these in our lives where we are left bewildered and confused, especially in a setting that this type of circumstance should never occur.  Our eyes are fixed where they need to be and our hearts are being prepared for service.  Suddenly a person or circumstance throws us a heavy anchor on a long chain and draws our eyes briefly away from Jesus.  For a second or two, we dumbly look down at the terrible weight we’ve just been burdened with and wonder what to do with it.  Instead of instantly handing it over to the LORD to dispose of, we cling to it and let its weight begin to drag us to the dark and murky bottom of our insecurities.

We need to improve our reaction times.  Peter didn’t wait until he was up to his neck in water to gurgle out his cry for help.  The account in Matthew says that he was only “beginning to sink” when he cried out to Jesus, “LORD, save me!”

 Peter employed three words.  Jesus used one hand.  And up from the water of doubt and little faith Peter rose.

When we are unable to stay afloat by our own power, or when someone starts poking holes in our life raft, we need to pray those three simple words.  When we are faced with situations that demand a response, instead of attempting to explain for clarification or defend our character, we need to pray, “LORD, save me!”  If we wait until the problem begins to fester and allow the pain to build, it’s only wasted time and deeper depths into which we sink.

This morning, Jesus had to gently chastise me like He did Peter for my own “little faith” and “doubt” (Matt 14:31).  I’m thankful that He did.

In spite of the man, his careless words and attitude and the anchor he threw me yesterday in an attempt to drown me, I’ve handed the burden over to Jesus.  He’s much stronger and more capable of dealing with others' indiscretions than I am.  I'd only make a big mess of things.

My feet are now back on solid ground because I’m learning from the greatest Teacher how to swim through the trials my life throws at me  -  and I’m doing it one stroke at a time.


DebBee said...

Karen, Thank you! I so needed to read this today! I am going to reread again and again! Maybe it will sink in! God Bless friend!

Mama Mimi (Dana) said...

Great post. Maybe another way to think about it is that Peter was encumbered with the layers of clothing he wore (the baggage we carry)and couldn't deal with the weight. And of course Peter wouldn't have thought about that before he jumped in the stormy water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus his load was light but as soon as he took them off of him he started to carry his own load again. Just a thought. Great post.