After a lapse of several years, I’ve finally started swimming again over the past few weeks. I’m getting up at 5:30 AM, heading to the YMCA and then swimming a mile, 3 or 4 times a week. The exercise is very good and I’m starting to feel a lot more energetic. Unfortunately, as you probably know, when first starting an exercise program after a long hiatus, it is very difficult. Starting out, I paced myself. My first day back, I only swam 10 laps. Getting out of the pool, I was tired but encouraged. The second day, I decided to increase my swim to 16 laps. I found that second day to be brutally difficult. After swimming just a few laps, I was exhausted. My arms were tired, my goggles were leaking, and I got a cramp in my foot. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I coughed and wound up swallowing some water. For the first time I could remember, I almost panicked. As dread set in, all kinds of thoughts swirled around inside my head. I wondered how I was going to be able to keep going. I wondered what drowning would feel like. I wondered how in the world the tiny lifeguard was going to be able to haul my considerable bulk out of the pool. As I felt myself begin to panic, I looked up and as I looked up, I saw the most amazing sight. Built into the tile of the pool, designed to help swimmers stay on target, was a cross.
Suddenly, I was reminded that I wasn’t alone in that pool. I had no reason to panic. Even if I was going to drown, and it became obvious at that moment that I wasn’t, I had no reason to fear.
9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
In a moments of difficulty, it is all too easy to focus on the problem and forget that God is there. If we can focus on the cross, we can stay on target and avoid the panic and dismay.