Monday, January 12, 2009

Saturdays/Mondays with Ashley

**Sorry for the delay on this one guys!  Read slowly and allow the Lord to speak to your heart!

Lets Take A Swim

I remember when I was just learning how to swim without my floaties (which is a really big deal). My dad would take me to the neighborhood pool and he would get in the water while I stood on the steps. He would get a few feet away from me and then say, "Come swim to me Ashley." So I would put on my goggles and make sure they were leak proof and then flail my arms and legs just trying to reach him, but right when I was about to reach him he'd take a step back. He would continue to do this and then finally he would stop and I would cling on to him and gasp for air. Once I caught my breath I'd say, "DAD! You kept moving and wouldn't let me catch you!" He would just smile and say "You made it, and look you swam the whole length of the pool (which actually it was the width)." If he had told me when we got to the pool that day that we would be swimming that far I would have said no way. He didn't do that.  All he said was swim to me.

God does the same for us, He gives us a little bit at a time. 1 Corinthians 10:13 "And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." I think the main reason we can't see the "big picture" is because we would be overwhelmed. He shows us what we need to see right now. Our job is to follow where He leads us. We see him taking a step back, and part of us wants to follow him while the other part wants to turn around and swim back to the steps. You have a few different types of swimmers:

1) The perfectionist- You swim a few strokes and then realize you're not doing it right so you go back to the steps and start over. That's not how it works. God sees the level of maturity that you're at and He won't expect more out of you than what you can do. He's not expecting you to jump in the water and start doing a perfect butterfly, He is expecting you to jump in and have terrible form. You won't be able to grow in your relationship with God if you don't allow yourself to make some mistakes. Don't beat yourself up about every little thing, just keep swimming.

2) The ones who don't trust Him- They see Him step back and go..."WOAH this was NOT part of the plan. I said I would swim to you and that's it." They don't trust His leadership, they don't trust Him to save them. They don't know Him, they don't know that He's good. They haven't gotten into the Word and looked at who He really is, so they're afraid.

3) The curb standers- These say, "Yeah I'm a Christian, but I don't have to get in the water I'm perfectly fine here on the curb (in the world)." They choose not to go anywhere in their relationship with Christ. They are perfectly fine just they way they are. I believe that we're called to jump in the pool. We aren't called to be lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). If you're a curb stander you need to make a choice, either jump in or go home, but don't stand there dangling your toes over the edge.

4) The sinker- This one is like Peter, they jump in the water and they're ready to go, but then they see Him take the step and they panic. They can't decide if they really want to follow Him or if they want to go back to the steps, as a result they sink. The idea of following Him is too hard but they realize they can't live life without Him. They continue to weigh out the pros and cons of both decisions, but they can't decide and after staying still for so long they sink. The good news is He's standing right there, and He'll pick you up and hold you and remind you why you want to keep swimming after Him. Then He'll let go and take a step back.

5) The A.D.D- This swimmer jumped in and is ready to go, but then they see one of those rings on the bottom of the pool surface. This swimmer is like one of the foolish virgins in Matthew 25. They are so wrapped up in their ministry and helping others that they have forgotten why they jumped in the pool in the first place. They aren't able to get more spiritually mature because they're stuck at the bottom of the pool. While these things are still in the pool and they're good, the A.D.D swimmer isn't quite strong enough to go down and get the ring yet. He isn't quite ready to go and help everyone else, he isn't mature yet. After awhile he'll run out of air (oil) and then he'll have to make the decision to continue to swim and not be distracted.

6) The curb rester- This one didn't realize how hard it was going to be. They got tired of swimming and said they would just hold onto the curb for a little while to catch their breath. While hanging onto the curb they look around and see how much "fun" everyone is having. They forget that this suffering is just for a little while and then he will restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). They look at Him and then look at the world, and they jump out. They forgot that this world is temporary, that this is nothing compared to eternity, but God will wait patiently for them to return to Him once again.

7) The swimmer- This one is the mature bride that is talked about in the end of Song of Solomon. This one is the one that pushed through. They jumped in flailing but ended swimming neat beautiful strokes. They worked hard and kept their eyes fixed on what was before them (Proverbs 4:25). They didn't sway to the right or the left, but they continued to press on (Philippians 3:14). Even when it was hard they kept their eyes on the prize and swam in such a way to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Although we may want to quit and give up remember "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)" I encourage each of you to swim so that one day He will hold you in his arms and say "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:21)

~~Ashley

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