It was a fog-shrouded morning on July 4, 1952, when Florence Chadwick dove into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean. She intended to become the first woman ever to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast, but after she had been swimming for over fifteen hours she became exhausted, cold, and discouraged. She asked her trainers in the boat beside her to take her out of the water. They pleaded with her, telling her they could see the coastline, but when she lifted her head out of the water all she could see was fog. Finally they relented and took her out of the water . . . less than a mile from the beach. She had covered 25 miles before quitting.
In an interview that afternoon she said, “I don’t like making excuses, but I really think that if I could’ve seen land—and not fog—I could’ve made it.”
She was probably right. Just a few months later she attempted the feat again—this time keeping a clear image of the beach in her mind—and she completed the swim.
In some ways, I think that story illustrates the Christian life. We stop looking at our goal and get discouraged. Tired, frustrated, stressed. The obstacles around us seem overwhelming, insurmountable.
The fog becomes impenetrable, and we’re tempted to quit.
I suspect some of you are there now. Your stresses have accumulated to the point that you feel like you can’t keep dealing with it all.
There’s no magic pill, no miraculous formula, but the book of Hebrews includes a clue to sticking it out. This passage was written to struggling Christians:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (12:1-2).
The key is in this phrase: “looking to Jesus.”
If you look at your bills, time demands, relationship challenges, worries and problems, you’ll be overwhelmed. That’s the fog that keeps you from seeing the One who matters.
It’s important to take some time to focus on Jesus: how he lived, what he said, how he died and was resurrected. His kindness, his compassion, his love, his forgiveness.
Will you do that today?
Will you spend fifteen minutes focusing on the Lord? That’s not much time, of course, but it might be more than you’ve been spending with him lately.
Talk to him, commune with him, rest with him. Ask him to help you see through the foggy, messed-up parts of your life and see him at work.
Ask him to help you receive his joy and happiness and peace.
Ask him to help you live the triumphant, victorious life he called you to live.