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The Long Distance Swimmer

By Stephen Johnson on December 20, 2016 in Life Blog

I was at an unusual celebration recently, in the company of a rare breed – long distance swimmers!   Ion Lazarenco was celebrating the completion of two amazing feats.  In October he entered the water in California and swam to Catalina Island, 32km away. It took him 12 hours 1 minute.  Then within weeks he was in Hawaii, swimming from Molokai Island to ‘Sandy Beach’ on Oahu.  That 42km swim took him 18 hours 11 minutes.

I had one question for him.  “When you got into the water at Molokai, did you have in mind how long it would take?”

Ned Denison, a legend among swimmers, spoke up.

“Long distance swimmers never have a time in mind.  There are too many uncertainties.  A swimmer is at the mercy of the weather, the tides.  The only certainty is adversity.  If you are not ready for it, you will not succeed.”

He told me many swimmers had failed to complete the English Channel after being within touching distance of France.  The tide can sweep you past the Cape and add hours to your journey.

Ned shared this advice.    “The swimmer should just swim.  Follow the kayak that is leading you.  Trust your team. Believe what you’re told.  And do exactly what you’re told.”

My head was reeling.  To think that you can be literally going backwards but you keep swimming, waiting for something to change, waiting for the tide to turn.

But when you think about it, isn’t that what life is like?  I often feel I’m going backwards, but it’s not a reason to stop.

And my original question to Ion is the question of the season.

‘How long?’ our kids ask ‘until Christmas?’

‘How Long?’ the people of Israel ask, “until the Messiah appears?”

‘How long’ we ask, “until our prayers are answered?”

And ‘how long’ we ask, ‘until Jesus returns?’

The answer is the swimmer’s answer:

Not too long now.  Don’t give up.  Keep swimming.  Think of the destination.  Accept the journey.  Enjoy the journey.  Believe what you’re told.  Do what you’re told.  Follow the guy in the kayak*. 

This is the Lifeblog on Spirit Radio, Passion for Life!


* Jesus answered, “You know the way to the place where I am going…. I am the way…”  (John 14:4,6)

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Stephen JohnsonView all posts by Stephen Johnson

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