I’ve never been huge on the sport of swimming. Often referred to by triathletes as the ‘necessary evil’ of triathlon, the swimming leg for many of us is the one leg that separates the elite athletes from the rest of us. I know plenty of people (including myself) that can bike and run well, but we will never truly be great unless we can swim faster and more efficiently.
Somewhere about mid-summer, I typically find myself back in the ocean for open water swim workouts. While I love the ocean, there is something about swimming in the vast blue sea that can be daunting. There are no pool edges, no lifeguards, and no ropes to grab onto if something should go wrong. There are waves to contend with, and beneath those waves there are a variety of sea creatures lurking in the depths.
Despite all the elements, I have seen some beautiful things swimming in the ocean. Bright orange fish, sea lions, dolphins, leopard sharks and starfish. It took some time swimming out in the ocean to get past my deepest fears of the unknown. That was until this summer.
About a month ago, the lifeguards on the beach that I typically swim at spotted two 15-20 foot great white sharks just off the coast. For those people that don’t know about great white sharks, they typically have huge teeth and can eat you if they get hungry. In addition to the shark sightings, there have been jellyfish the size of trashcan lids and tentacles longer than 10 feet in the same waters. They are extremely rare for San Diego waters, but they do sting.
I stopped swimming in the ocean and hit the pool.
The whole situation made me realize how sometimes ignorance is bliss. If I would have never heard about the sharks, I would have kept swimming. If the jellyfish had not been on the news, I would have kept swimming. I would have not been crippled by fear.
The flip side to all of this is that while ignorance is sometimes bliss, ignorance still remains ignorance. The things we don’t know can indeed hurt us. I didn’t want to be the idiot losing a limb and have the world tell me “yeah dude, what the heck were you doing out there anyway? Didn’t you know there were sharks in the area?!”
I think sometimes as Christian people, we get scared to know more. We are comfortable with where we are at as Christians and don’t want to know more about the dangers lurking in the water. We don’t want to know about the sharks, or have to be accountable for having to live up to a new standard of faith. The second we know about the sharks, we have a duty to adjust our course and rely even deeper on Christ.
The beautiful thing about Christ is that He promises to take care of us. The more we learn and know, the more we realize that it is by his Grace that we are alive in the first place. We have to give up control. We have to swim in the ocean, and yes there are sharks.
I would challenge people to step back and look at the things that are crippling them spiritually. Learn all you can, and face your fears. Jump in the water and let go.
1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”