On a chilly and cloud covered day in 1952, San Diego native Florence Chadwick began an almost 30 mile swim off the coast of Catalina Island to mainland California. She was attempting a long distance journey that would put her in the history books yet again, having previously become the first woman to swim the english channel both ways. Her mother encouraged her along the arduous swim from a nearby boat for more than fifteen hours. However, the fog became so dense Chadwick could barely see those boats traveling alongside her. The water was freezing. She was exhausted and depleted physically, mentally, and emotionally. She begged to be taken out of the water and into the boat. Her mother called out to her that she was so close; the shore was so near and attainable. Finally, Florence Chadwick gave up and stopped swimming. She was less than half a mile from the shore. The following day at a press conference she admitted, “ All I could see was the fog…I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it.”
Sound familiar? As Randy Alcorn reminds us (and from whom I first read of this story), we all live our lives in varying degrees of fogs like fear, discontentment, anxiety, pain, sin, and heartache. We try to navigate our way as best we can, but we can certainly sympathize with Florence Chadwick. We, too, experience fatigue and frustration along life’s journey. We can barely see what’s right in front of us. And we, too, at times, may feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. But for believers, the shoreline is so near. That shore is not merely a destination. It is a person. That person is Jesus Christ, and that shore is our true home, heaven. And not only is He standing on the shore, He’s with us as we journey, promising to never leave us nor forsake us.
I find great encouragement and comfort from that analogy and illustration. I hope you do too. What we need as believers is to be encouraged and reminded to keep going. It’s why Paul built all of his teaching through the foundation of the cross, for it alone sustains and grants relief. “ And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
If we try to live our lives just focused on the fog in front of us, we will miss how close our savior truly is. If we center our attention on only our struggles and trials, we miss what God is doing through them and to us. The Bible tells us we don’t have much further to go, whether you have 9 years or 90 years left on this earth, “yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
Let’s keep going. Christ has already gone to prepare a place for us in going to the cross and bearing the wrath of God against your sins and mine. When all you can see is the fog in front of you, let your heart swell at the thought that “no eye has seen , nor ear heard, nor the hear of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) And when the inevitable experience of weariness and being heavy laden engulfs you, don’t forget we have a Lord whose yoke is easy and burden light.
Taking our first breath upon arriving at the shore of heaven will prove how worthy and wonderful the journey really was. Jesus knew the joy that was set before him and endured the cross. Paul forgot what lay behind and instead strained towards what was ahead, for the troubles along the way can't match what's coming once we make it home. (Philippines 3:13-14, Romans 8:18) We can too when we look by faith through the fog to Jesus Christ. He’s there. And he’s wonderful.