I grew up watching the BBC children’s programme ‘Blue Peter’. In my time it went from black and white to colour, but one thing never changed – there was always one member of the team who did outrageous stunts. It was John Noakes in my day, but I was so glad to read of one of the current presenters carrying on the same tradition. Andy Akinwolere has just swum five miles across the Palau Trench – the deepest ocean abyss in the world (8,000 metres in depth). His full story is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-13659716?SThisEM.
This is impressive in itself, but what made me sit up and gasp was the fact that ten weeks prior to this he could barely swim a length of a swimming pool and was terrified of the open water. Truly this is facing your demons and overcoming. I salute his courage.
It brings to mind what it takes to grow as a Christian. Discipleship is an adventure, not a picnic. Sure, we are safe with Jesus in the sense that no evil can steal our soul,
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37–39 NIV)
However, the truth is that between here and eternity we will encounter challenges,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4 NIV)
We can face these trials with a smile because they are working in our favour. Nothing is wasted with God. No difficulty, distress or disappointment is empty if we view it from the perspective of faith. I do not think Andy Akinwolere is regretting the challenge and the training now. Perhaps he felt rather daunted at the outset, but something about the goal prevented his negative emotions getting the better of him. In much the same way, when we ‘fix our eyes on Jesus’ (Heb 12:1
), and keep the goal of growth before us, (“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 NIV)
we find uncharacteristic courage and endurance.
Do you have challenging waters to enter? Do you feel you could be drowning? Take courage, Jesus is near (Matt 14:31
), and he has a purpose in what you are encountering. It will make you more mature, complete and lacking nothing.