Lately, I have been feeling like Dora from the movie Finding Nemo swimming in shark infested waters. My natural reaction is to swim as fast as I can, as far as I can. It’s the logical thing to do when confronted with harm and danger. But, instead, I’ve decided to stay and swim. In this situation I had to choose. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and we must stay and swim. If you too are swimming in shark infested waters, here are somethings I’ve learned. I hope they will help you swim strong too.
* Realize where you are swimming! See the sharks. Recognize the situation. Listen. Observe. Assess. Take your time in doing this. Don’t rush it. Listening and observing can be like peeling layers off an onion. Accept the truth that actions and behaviors show. Talk is cheap and often contradicts behavior and actions.
*Now, it’s time to ask the question do I swim away or do I stay and swim ? As a Christ follower, I can’t determine this on my own. I have to ask Christ! If He says stay I stay. If He says swim away, I swim away. There is a time for staying and a time for swimming away. Be sure you make the right decision here. Again, take your time. You may take a few bites and the water may get a little bloody; but if this is a “stay” situation and you swim away…guess what? You’ll get another “opportunity” to swim with the sharks again sooner or later!
*If the answer is swim away – by all means swim away with everything you have. You can stop reading right now!
*If Christ is keeping you in the waters; then Christ also has a way for you to swim! Again, ask Christ to show you how to do this! He will. If He has told you to stay and swim, you can count on a few very important things:
1. That He has indeed prepared you for this swim. You are ready.
2. That you will need to keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.
3. That you will have to want to please Him more than you want to defend yourself or run the other direction.
During my triathlon days, I reached a point in my swimming ability where I needed to change my approach to the swim portion of the race. Prior to this point, I had usually swam off the back of my swim wave. I had not been a strong swimmer and swimming off the back kept me out of the fray of people kicking and shoving and struggling at the start of the swim. But, I was, at this point not longer able to swim off the back because I was now both a strong swimmer and a pretty fast swimmer. So, for this race, for the first time, I decided to swim off the front of my swim wave with the sharks! I was confidently nervous!
The night before the race, I was chatting with a couple of women who had raced this race before. They gave me a very KEY piece of information. The swim course would be marked by a tow line that was bright yellow and was about 2 feet beneath the surface of the water. But this bright yellow line would be easily visible. They advised me to jump off the front of my wave, find the yellow line and swim right next to it the whole way. This would mean my siting would need to be minimal and I could swim a very straight course (preventing me from swimming any extra distance which is common in open water swimming). I was excited about this KEY advice and it gave me additional purpose to stick with my plan to swim off the front.
Race morning came and there was a huge fog over the lake. The large orange buoys that marked the swim course from above could not be seen. The race start was delayed so the fog could lift somewhat. Finally, it was my turn to get in the water. I nervously went right to the farthest front point allowed in my wave. Many other women hung way back. I was focused on finding the yellow line. I wasn’t worried about the fog. I wasn’t worried about the other swimmers. I just needed to trust my new found ability, trust that I’d find the yellow line and then swim my swim. The gun went off. I thrust myself forward and swam like crazy barely taking breaths until I have found the line! It was bright yellow! Easily visible and straight as an arrow. Very few athletes ahead of me were even swimming near it! Woo hoo!! I quickly settled into my race pace and honestly I had a really good time. As I rounded the last corner and was heading for shore I saw traffic near the yellow line for the first time. A bunch of big guys, in wetsuits, that were not good swimmers. What to do? Get slowed down by them? Swim around them and lose the yellow line? I kept looking and watching. Finally, I caught up to them. And I laughed as a tiny gap between them opened up. I stretched my body as long and narrow as I rolled on my side and swam right through the middle of them! I was home free! A few hundred yards and I would be done with the swim. I had gone off the front of the swim wave. I had followed the yellow line. I had found a way through the blockade of big guys! As I got out of the water and ran toward my bike, I heard Robert yell, “you are third out of the water!” What? me? Kimberly? Third out of the water? In the past I had been one of the last 3 out of the water!
The memory of this swim powers me as I follow Christ and learn to swim with the sharks by knowing I’m going to finish, knowing that Christ has trained and equipped me for this “swim”, knowing that if I keep my eyes on Christ (my yellow line) I will survive, thrive and come out obediently victorious!
It is my hope and my prayer that if you are indeed swimming with the sharks that you will ask Christ to guide you, trust His training and keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.