This is the third article in a four-part series . . .
Learning to swim was pretty traumatic when I look back on it. Jumping, or getting thrown, into the water for the first time, and the successive times after that, were horrible events. I remember lots of movement, desperate movement, trying to keep my God-given breathing apparatus above water . . . and failing that, trying to learn to breathe water. It never worked. Coughing and belching what felt like gallons of water was unpleasant to say the least, and not something I really wanted to repeat.
Everything that starts something new flounders. Baby birds flounder to the ground, a newborn colt braces unsure legs trying to take its first steps, and even babies go through a "toddler" phase before really getting their footing and learning to walk. Floundering, whether we like it or not, is a part of growth. Where we go wrong is to mistake floundering for failing, and accepting the label of failure.
I learned to swim. I learned to dive deep, and jump off of high platforms into deep water. I swam in pools large and small, creeks, riverbeds, and even the ocean. Though not as agile as I used to be, I can still swim very well. Then came the time to teach my daughter to learn how to swim. She had been in the shallow end of the pool and had really gotten used to and loved the water, until it came time to learn how to swim. In fact, where she used to ask all the time about going to the pool, she now had a tinge of dread to her voice and asked, "Are you going to take me to the deep end again this time?"
She floundered, she sank, she swallowed and belched up what I am sure must have been gallons of water to her. I do not doubt she thought for sure she was going to die. I would ease up at times, and just let her play in the shallow end. At first our swimming lessons were short, but I kept taking her more often, and for longer periods of time, out of the shallows and into the deeper waters of the pool. She was never in any real danger, because I was always with her, watching her, ready to assist when she really needed me, not just when she really wanted me.
I let her sink a couple of times. I pulled her out more than a few times. I spoke to her as she cried. I held her up when her strength was gone. I encouraged her when she wanted to quit. I kept taking her into the deeper waters.
Today, my daughter can swim. She plays in the shallow end, but she also plays in the deeper waters as well. For some people, learning to swim may come more quickly, but I have a feeling it pretty much goes the same way for just about everyone. To learn to swim, we have to flounder. However, how we react to floundering is up to us.
I am sure many of you are already seeing the spiritual implications, however, many will not as easily recognize them in their own life. How often has God, in an effort to take you out of the shallow waters of the Favored Christian life, allowed you to Flounder in the deeper waters? What has been your reaction to this? See, I believe God has often brought events into our lives we do not appreciate nor want, and we do not see the reason for them. How often do we hear people asking God "why" as they struggle mightily to get back to the shallows of the Favored Christian life?
The strange thing is, we enter the Floundering Christian life at one of two points: either we ask for it, or God sees we are ready for it and just gives us a nudge. Much the way my daughter asked me to teach her to swim, we go to church and ask God to teach us, to use us, to really work in our lives, to make us the Christian men He wants us to be, but then when God does just that and begins to teach us, and we begin to Flounder, we have one of two choices. Either we turn back and give up, preferring rather to live the Favored Christian life, or we endure.
The Floundering Christian life is not a one-time event, because there are many lessons to be learned, many skills to be developed. Have you mistaken Floundering for Failure? Is God nudging you, or have you asked God to use you? Are you ready to go through the Floundering process?
- Reposted from MenRising.com