The past two days I have had the privilege of witnessing my daughter learn to swim. On Wednesday she looked at me as she stood on the steps of our pool and took off her wings and made the bold announcement of a three year old. “I don’t need these anymore.”
She then leaped into the water towards me and proceeded to sink. As I reached to pull her out, there was coughing and spluttering and gasping for air, and in the midst of all this, the little determined voice spoke: “Again!” So I placed her back on the step and she tried again. And there was more coughing and spluttering and choking, but her perseverance remained. And it remained for about four hundred more attempts until my arms were sore from helping her and the sun was starting to set. Her progress was small, perhaps only a few seconds of keeping her head above water.
Yesterday we went back to the pool to repeat the process, only this time I was told by my three year old that she was capable of swimming the width of the pool. We started at one end, and with me hovering as close to her as possible, my brave little girl proceeded to swim from one side to the other. It was all I could do not to reach in and help her, her sweet little nose sticking just enough above the water to be able to breathe as she made the journey to the other side.
Trust me when I say that no parent of any Olympic athlete could ever have been more proud than I was at that moment. It was not in her speed, nor her swimming style, nor her ability, but in her sweet spirit of perseverance.
This morning I read Isaiah 43 vs 2 with new eyes:
“When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
So often in life we get to experience the choking and spluttering feeling as we attempt to make it to the other side. But for me, this was the first time I was able to experience the Father heart of God as He watches us struggle though different challenges. It would be so easy for Him to simply lift us up and out, but He understands the rewards that come from our perseverance to stay in the water. And we are not alone. He has promised that He will be with us, and my prayer is that I will be able to picture Him in the water with me the next time that I am passing through a river. And whilst I am going through the river, may I hear His Voice encouraging me as He continues in verse 4:
“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.”