I could spend all day swimming. I mean it. All day.
So imagine how much fun it is to see my 5½ year-old-daughter share the same enthusiasm. But, this summer is a little different.
Gone are the safety of the arm floaties and jumping into the water into my arms because I promised to catch her.
It’s the summer for her to learn how to swim.
My wife and I took a gamble on whether our daughter would learn to swim from me. I learned from my mom back in the day and I liked the idea of keeping that tradition rolling. However, would she take instruction from swim coach Daddy?
YES. Several weeks in, it’s a joy to see her progress. Reaching, slicing the water with her hand and pulling the water back while she kicks her feet reminds me of how many times we’ve talked about it.
But as she continues to move forward in the water and swimming more confidently and competently, I think this whole process had more to do with God revealing to me a few things about my relationship with Him.
I love how God teaches lessons through water.
We know about passing through the Jordan, the Red Sea and walking on the Sea of Galilee. We know the story of the woman at the well and many other stories and illustrations.
Water represents cleansing, consecration, new life and refreshing throughout the Bible.
During our swimming lessons, we spend time breaking down the stroke in a kid-friendly way. We reach as far as we can as if saying, “Hi” to someone far away. We slice the water as if to shake someone’s hand. And then we pull back the water and push it away. All of this is meant to get across the water in the most efficient way. This makes we ask what my reach looks like during the day. What am I reaching for? Am I aiming to please God or self? If my aim is to please God, how efficient am I with orienting my thoughts to His thoughts? Like keeping my fingers separate while stroking through the water, how much power do I lose by not relying on the Holy Spirit and letting God’s word guide me? Reach for holiness as the standard and you’ll meet less resistance when determining God’s guidance.
When my daughter’s stroke breaks down, it’s usually because she stops kicking. The most frequent thing I say during our sessions is, “Keep kicking”. When she stops kicking, her momentum slows and she has to fight harder with her arms to keep from sinking. I like when she realizes she has legs and feet again and begins to move through the water with a lot more ease. This reminds me of how easy it is to stop moving in God’s will when we don’t have all the answers we want. When we stop seeing God for how big He is and respond in gratitude, how easy is it to sink into negative thoughts, actions or both? Our arms may pull us across the pool eventually, but how much time and energy gets used up before we realize we have an all-powerful eternal motor ready to help us churn and burn? Some of the best advice I’ve received is when you aren’t sure what to do, serve someone else. Don’t stop moving on the account of not knowing. Gratitude keeps you going.
Breathing is the biggest revelation when it comes to my daughter’s swimming progress. Realizing she can take a breath at any time is the game-changer. Where she used to want to swim very short distances after taking one long breath, she now swims the length of the pool and back knowing she can pop up her head (still teaching her to breathe to the side) and take a breath while continuing. The reaching and the kicking don’t have to stop. Here breath is there when she needs it. This reminds me of the importance of spending time in prayer, freeing myself from the distractions of the world and engaging with God. It’s amazing how perspective changes when we invite God into our day.
I’m sure I’ll find more illustrations as we continue on this journey, but I’m thankful for these right now. I’m sure God takes joy in our progress as we aim to walk by His spirit and by His word.
He promises to catch us should we jump into His arms. We have an opportunity to spend our whole day swimming in His grace, mercy, peace and strength.
Swim in that truth. All day.
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14