This summer my 8 year old daughter took a swim test at the YMCA. It sounds simple and easy enough, but there was a lot of discussion before it took place. She had to swim the length of the pool in 12 ft. deep water…only one time. The reward for passing the test was the privilege of sliding down the BIG PURPLE slide into the deep water. However, she faced three obstacles…
2. Inexperience swimming on top of the water
3. And her mother couldn’t do it for her
Once she decided to finally take the test, the lifeguard got into the pool and my daughter held onto the side of the pool…and we waited…and we waited…and we waited as my 8 year old stared at the length of the pool, stared at the people swimming in her “path”, and stared at the deep water. I tried to encourage her. I tried to remind her she had nothing to lose if only she would try.
We continued to wait and finally she said “I can do this!” I agreed with her; she took a deep breath and started swimming with the lifeguard right beside her. A lady in the pool encouraged her. I walked the side of the pool encouraging her; I thought she was doing a great job!
Halfway through the pool; she looked at the lifeguard and said, “I can’t breathe”, and the lifeguard grabbed her and put her on the big red floating device and carried her to the other side of the pool.
Tears flowed with disappointment from my daughter’s beautiful blue eyes as she buried her wet stringy head of hair into my chest and said, “I failed the test.” My first response was, “NO, you didn’t!” My second response was, “The way I see it, you had the courage to overcome your fear and try the test. You swam further than you ever have before by making it halfway through the length of the pool, and you asked for help when you needed it. I think you did an awesome job!”
On the drive home I couldn’t help but compare a Christian’s walk with the Lord to the swim test.
Sometimes we fear “the test”. God certainly calls us out of our comfort zone sometimes and gives us opportunities to overcome our fears. Sometimes we go through deep waters, but God promises us we don’t have to do it alone. Just as the lifeguard swam right beside my daughter the whole time, God is there right beside us. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you, when you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” We can trust God’s promise. We do not have to fear.
We can have courage knowing He’s right beside us.
I was also reminded that none of us begin our Christian walk with experience. Think about the saints of the Old Testament. They had no experience; they just walked. They earned their commendation because of their faith. It was that simple; they had no one telling them the answers or walking the journey for them. Hebrews 11:1-3 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Each time we face our fear with Jesus by our side, each time we have no experience in the difficulty before us, each time we cry out to God for help, we begin to trust God more and more. Our faith begins to flourish. It’s almost as if we see the difficulty, take a deep breath, and trust that God is walking right beside us and knowing he is even carrying us in the moments we cannot put one foot in front of the other.
The interesting thing about a test is that no one can take it for you. Sure, people try to cheat on tests sometimes or have someone take a test for them, but in “real life” the tests are ours. We have to have the courage to take a deep breath, hold it, take the plunge, and swim like our life depends on it. Although no one can take it for us, we don’t have to take it alone. Jesus is right there encouraging us, interceding to the Father on our behalf, and giving us power through His Holy Spirit.
Our Christian walk is full of “swim tests” that should cause us to rely on our Savior. He may not have a big red floating device to keep us from drowning, but He gave us something better…His own red blood poured out for you and me, offered as a sacrifice to save us from an eternity apart from God.
I don’t know what test you are facing today, but I do know there is One who has already passed the ultimate test. He willingly obeyed the Father because of you; He died for you; He rose again so one day you can too. Because of what Jesus did, He alone can give you courage to face your fears, give you wisdom to grow in experience, and help you beyond what any human can offer. What deep waters are you facing today? What challenge is staring you in the face? Are you up for the test? Of course you are! You can swim further than you ever have before with the courage and confidence to ask for help when you need it. You will do an awesome job! The ultimate prize won’t be a BIG PURPLE slide, but it will be the Crown of Life.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12