“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”—Alan Watts (1915–1973)
Comparing our relationship with God to swimming isn’t a bad analogy. When you swim, you’re surrounded by water; it’s the element in which you move and survive. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” Paul proclaimed. 1
Swimming instructor Jane Greene Pettersson wrote in a blog post: “Teaching swimming has taught me so much about fear itself. Fear keeps us safe, but it also prevents us from moving forward. If you are frightened and try to hold on to the water, you can’t swim. It is only by letting go and trusting that the water will hold you up that you can learn to swim.” Just so, letting go and trusting in God doesn’t always come naturally—some find it easier than others—it can be somewhat disconcerting—but it’s an essential element of our relationship with Him.
Swimmers immerse themselves in the water, knowing that in this environment they can do things they can’t do on dry land. They float, they flip, they dive deep, they thrust upwards, they speed along rapidly, they glide… Just so the person of faith, upheld by God, immersed in His love, has confidence to navigate their life and progress in ways that wouldn’t be possible without His support.
Confident swimmers are often happiest in the water. Liberated from the gravity of an earthbound existence, they revel in the near weightlessness. When we’re trusting in God, we are freer, less weighed down with the concerns of our daily lives, because we are letting Him buoy us up. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 2
But don’t be discouraged if you’re not a good swimmer, or even if you can’t swim at all. Not everyone swims, but each of us can be a person of faith. Faith is not about our own abilities or strength; it’s not really about anything within ourselves at all. Faith is an outward, not an inward look, toward God who is always there, ready to hold us up.
Dear God, help me to trust You to hold me up. Give me faith in Your support in the midst of life’s challenges.
- Acts 17:28
- John 8:36 NIV