I have always loved swimming. It is the one exercise I can do well despite the physical limitations I experience with CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease). I love everything about it. I love how the water feels against my skin and how the sun feels against my face. I love to go underwater, and for a few moments, experience the stillness and the silence. In the water, I am weightless and graceful.
In the water, I feel free… free from wearing the ankle-foot orthoses that allow me to walk, free from the cane that helps with my balance, free from the walker and wheelchair that support me when I get tired. And even though I am grateful for all these devices that help me move and give me freedom, it feels great to be in the water… just me.
I love to swim as fast as I can, for as long as I can, and feel my heart beating inside my chest, my lungs expanding, my muscles working. In those moments, my soul says:
This is what I told my husband when, after years of weighing pros and cons and making budgets and projections, I suggested it was time to take the plunge (pun intended) and build a pool in our tiny backyard. What could he say to that? …of course, he said yes!
You might be wondering why it took me years to decide to build it when swimming brings so much joy to my life. Two main things were holding me back.
First, the thought of the mess, noise, and disruption for months, especially since our bedroom window leads to the backyard. And second, our space is minimal, so to fit a pool, we would have to give up our beautiful, extended patio… a place we had enjoyed very much up till now. It took me a long time to be ready to give it up.
I settled for something good for a long time, even when my desire was for so much more. This is similar to what we experience in our spiritual lives.
God places holy desires in our hearts, desires to guide us to something greater, but we often let things hold us back. We know deep inside that we are created for more, that there is something that will bring us greater joy, but we hesitate.
We look in our hearts, and we think, “This works well enough… I’m not sure if I’m ready to give this up. I hear a promise of Living Water, but… Do I really want the Holy Spirit to come in and dig a huge hole? What about the mess? What about the noise? What about the neighbors?” After all those questions, we might say to God, “Let’s not change anything yet… I think what I have now is good enough.”
Before the pool digging crew arrived, we removed the fence, the plants, and the patio pavers. We had to let go of what we had been holding on to, so we could make room for something more.
The process has been messy and has required our patience and the patience of those who live around us. At times we looked out and wondered if we made the right choice, but we looked at the pool rendering (which we kept by the back door) and held on to hope. And now, with just a few weeks to go, the hard part is over…we are close to our goal. The yard is still messy, but the pool is mostly finished.
I squint my eyes and imagine it all done. I can see myself swimming, and I’m ok waiting a little bit more.
It is almost time for Pentecost. God wants to dig a big hole in our hearts, but it won’t be empty for long. He wants to prepare us to receive Him. We just have to deal with the mess for a time while He heals what is below.
He wants to fulfill our holy desires. He comes bearing gifts, Living Water, but we must be willing to let go of whatever is not from God. And then, when the hard work begins, and there is just a big ugly hole, we remember His Promise…we look at the Cross, and we hold on to hope.
The tears will be wiped, the dirt will be hauled away, and we will thirst no more. The Holy Spirit is coming… are we ready for more?