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Swimming in the Fog

Story of the Day for Tuesday May 17, 2011

Swimming in the Fog

                              My soul is very troubled. How long, O Lord, how long?  

                                                                                   Psalm 6:3

On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick attempted to become the first woman to swim the twenty-one miles from Catalina Island to the California coast.

The fog was so thick, however, she could barely see the support boats accompanying her. After fifteen hours and fifty-five minutes, she begged to be taken out of the water. Soon after she got in the boat, Chadwick discovered she was only half a mile from shore.

At a news conference the next day, she said, “All I could see was the fog . . . I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Marathon runners who know how much further it is to the finish line are better able to summon the strength to reach their goal. But, with most things in life, we’re like Florence Chadwick: we know the goal we want to accomplish, but we have no idea how close we are to reaching it. We live in a fog.

Louis L’Amour has more than 300 million copies of his books in print, but, in the early days, he says, “There was a steady flow of rejection slips.” He was not exaggerating. Publishers rejected his submissions 200 times before the first one was accepted.

If you knew your 200th story would usher you into a life of fame and fortune, you wouldn’t mind your 199th rejection slip. In fact, it would be kind of exciting. But, if you didn’t know whether your writing would ever be accepted by a publisher, your 199th rejection slip would be pretty discouraging, wouldn’t it?

The psalmists often ask God a question for which they never get an answer: “How long, O Lord?”

We’re encouraged to ask the Lord the same question – even though we’ll get the same answer they did. All the same, even groaning to God is an act of faith.

We don’t know how many more job applications we’ll have to fill out before we land a job. We don’t know how many prayers we’ll have to make on behalf of a loved one who is breaking our heart. How many more strokes did Florence Chadwick need to make before she reached her goal? How many more manuscripts did Louis L’Amour need to mail before he earned his first dollar?

The key is to take a deep breath, trust the Lord, and keep at it.

If we never know when the answers will come, is there ever a time to give up? I guess so.  James Reeves’ little poem speaks about just such a time:

The King sent for his wise men all

To find a rhyme for W.

When they had thought a good long time,

But could not think of a single rhyme,

     “I’m sorry,” said he, “to trouble you.”

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)