Do you remember when you were young and you would go swimming? Your parents might have sat beside the pool keeping an eye on you, they might have been swimming beside you.
When you’re learning to swim, there comes a point when you have to let go of your parent or teacher, let go of the wall, venture into the deep end. To learn to swim, we must swim on our own. With the knowledge, of course, that there is someone nearby who will keep us from sinking.
After a swimming lesson, you get wrapped in a towel, a bundle of warmth, safety, and happiness. Do you remember that exhausted, hungry kind of happy? I don’t know about anyone else, but swimming makes me hungry in a way no other physical movement does. Even if I’ve only been in the water for fifteen minutes, I need a big pile of hot chips afterwards.
So there you are, learning to swim then wrapped in a towel. And then? Your parents drive you home. They’ve paid for your entry and now they walk you out and lead you to the car. You don’t have to do anything as they drive you home, you just get to sit in your towel, happy and tired. If things have gone your way, you’re also clutching a white paper bag of chocolate freckles or a pack of salt and vinegar chips.
When you get home, you get first dibs on the shower, and you rinse out the chlorine. You’re cleaner, warmer, and happier than before. Maybe you’re still hungry, or maybe you’ve got hundreds-and-thousands stuck between your teeth.
You know you’ll have to go to another swimming lesson. You know you’ve got to get that dive right. You know you’ve got to let the water past your stomach again, which is always the worst part for some reason. But it’s not your responsibility, not yet, not until your next lesson. You’ve done your bit for the day. Next week, when you go back to the pool, your parents will drive you. They’ll pay for your entry. And they’ll listen to you ask for a pizza pocket.
Next week, you’ll let go of the wall, you’ll walk to the place where you have to stand on your toes for your head to be above water. And your parents will be there, keeping an eye on you. And your teacher will be there next to you. You’ll be handed a pool noodle and you’ll kick as fast as you can, and you’ll make it to the deep end and you’ll hold onto the wall and you’ll breathe like you never have before.
But then? Then, your parents will wrap you in a towel, saying that you did a good job, and they’ll drive you home. And you’ll be warm, and happy, and tired.
God wants us to learn to swim. But He’s not going to let us sink. He’s going to teach us and He’s going to be proud of us. He’s going to pay the entry fee and He’s going to drive us home. And sometimes He’s going to buy us an icecream.
Right now, I’m in the process of moving out of home. By that I mean I’m still at home, and trying to find a job and a place to live and – and – and –
And there are so many things that have to happen and I don’t know how they’re all going to happen.
But I take each step as I would a swimming lesson.
I can’t learn freestyle if I don’t put my head under water, just as I can’t find a place to live without getting my documents in place. I can’t learn backstroke if I don’t trust myself to float, just as I can’t get a job without putting myself out there.
Well, I’ve learnt freestyle and I’ve learnt backstroke. And now I’m bundled in my towel and God is driving me home and that means there is a job and a place to live ready for me at the right time.
Admittedly, I still have many things to learn. I can’t do the butterfly and I can’t do breaststroke. I can pretend I can, but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone, least of all God. So next week He’s going to drive me to another swimming lesson, and I’m going to learn the next step.
As I learn, He will be nearby.