When I was a child, my family spent a few summers camping at a lake in East Tennessee. A floating platform was situated off the shore of the lake, just far enough to be reached with an easy swim by an average swimmer. But, I was young and a less than average swimmer. So, my dad would let me hold on to his neck and shoulders while he swam to the platform. The challenge of each summer was to be able to swim well enough to make it on my own to and from that platform. For me, this would be manhood.
One summer I got the idea that if I started from the platform I could run and jump into the lake, shortening the distance I would have to swim to the shore by a few feet. A long jump would make up for a lesser swim and I would still be a man.
I ran, jumped, and started flailing my arms. I pounded the water as if my life depended on it. I was never in danger because my dad was in the water, right at my side, ready to pull me close and take me to shore should I need him. I needed him. After a few yards my arms grew weary and my head bobbled under the water until I felt my dad’s strong body next to me. I wrapped my tired arms around his neck and held on, keeping the grip tight until I was safely at the shore.
I couldn’t swim well, but I could keep a strong grip with the best of men. Sure, my dad did the swimming, but I did my part. I’m sure my dad was grateful that I had the strength to hold on until we made it to shore.
When I became a man, I thought back to that lake scene. I was in a challenging season of life. I was holding on with all my might, but growing weary and wondering what was happening to me and my faith.
One day I read Psalm 121. “My help comes from the Lord… The Lord is my keeper.” These words gave me a new perspective on that failed swim from the platform to the shore, and on the grace of God in my salvation and ongoing walk with Christ. I realized that in the lake, it was not my grip on my dad that mattered, but his keeping hold of me. And, I came to see that it is not my strength that keeps me in grace and faith, close to God, united with Christ, and in the Spirit. It is the Lord who is strong. His grip matters. He keeps me.
We are often like children striving with all our might to keep our heads above water. But as Christians, we are the Father’s children being held by his strong arms so the flood waters will not overwhelm us.
Someday, we will no longer see imperfectly as though looking in a distorted mirror. We will no longer know things partially. We will look back and see clearly, and know that the Lord was keeping us through it all.
So, let us press on, walk on, swim on, knowing that our Keeper never sleeps nor slumbers, never goes weary, and will never let us go.