Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream May Be Hard, But It’s Not Impossible

I recently said these words when talking to a friend about the challenges a kid faces today when they want to follow Christ while living in the world. It’s like swimming upstream. And although swimming upstream is hard, it’s not impossible—oh, and that metaphor isn’t just for kids.

We all know some days it is hard. Today is one of those days. I never want to be a whiner. Never. I do it sometimes, probably more than I should, and about little things, things that don’t matter—like long lines at Wal Mart and when someone “borrows” my iPod cable without returning it. But all in all, I don’t want to complain because I know it dishonors God, I know it can keep people from seeing God, and I know that I have a pretty easy life compared to a zillion other people.

Yet even when I know with my head that my life is pretty good, and that testing and trials grow my faith, the truth is the trials still hurt. Friends hurt us; our friends hurt. We feel helpless to help them. Things are out of our control. Good people are wronged. People we love die. Or walk away from God. Or disappoint us. Or we, them. Then there’s illness and cancer and the economy and loneliness. And on those days, when you want to turn back, you want to quit swimming, what do you do?

Well this is what I think. You keep swimming. Upstream. You may need to rest a bit. You may need to call in reinforcements, but you don’t give up. You don’t turn around. You don’t follow the tide. You keep swimming. You keep following God. You keep on trusting His precepts and His path. It may hurt. It may burn. Tears may fill your eyes and you may find it hard to breathe. You may, with every fiber of your being, want to quit. But you don’t.

You find your strength in His strength and His power made perfect in your weakness. You count it all joy, and you remember that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character, hope. And hope doesn’t put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-4, ESV)

And so you keep swimming, upstream, against the current–because it’s worth it, or more to the point, because He’s worth it, and there’s a whole world swimming past you in the opposite direction that needs to know that it’s possible to keep swimming, and to know the Hope and the Difference that can be theirs if they follow Him, too.

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