Unintentional Swimming

Here is an update post for y’all! Been a little since I’ve done this sort of thing, trying a different take on it this time around. I hope you enjoy!

The other day I went swimming. Alright now before you go being all concerned don’t worry it was outside. Yes, it was about 3 degrees Celcius and the wind was 18 miles an hour. Yes, there had been rainfall the previous day making the river I was in high and moving swiftly. Yes, I was not planning on going swimming Saturday February the 6th. Did that stop me from swimming? No. How did I get into this situation? Bear with me for the following.

I hate running, more specifically I hate continuous running. Marathons? No thank you. I love to sprint. All out as hard as I can go for a set amount of time/distance. I’m not a city guy. I’ve lived in cities most of my life at this point and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not a city guy, it’s not what moves me. I love the countryside, any countryside’ll do. Put those two things together and you get me sprinting through woods and fields. A funny sight to be sure. The easiest place for me to galavant around the countryside is about a 30 minute walk from where I live in Glasgow. That’s if you’re going on nice pre-made trails.

Normally I go the long way on the lovely pedestrian trails to get to my little corner of Glasgow and then forge a small river to take the quick route back. So I planned on just that, knowing before I even went out the door that the river would be higher and faster than what I had previously experienced. So I set on my way, warming up with a few sprints along the way to my little corner. I arrived, queued up the playlist, and went to work. I love running about the woods, I feel at home. There is something about being surrounded by creations of God living as He has asked them that stirs that same calling in my heart. During my run I realised that it would be safer to return the way I had come: pedestrian paths. I also acknowledged that I really didn’t want to do that for the following reasons:

  1. People will look at my muddy clothes. I don’t daintily run about the forest. There is mud and I fall, sometimes on accident.
  2. I could actually clean my shoes by walking through the river. They’ll be soaked, but it’ll save some scrubbing when I get home.
  3. Walking is slow and not exciting. Coming off of my adrenaline injected forest running, I don’t really want to go back to slow paced promenading.
  4. I like the challenge of forging a more dangerous river.
  5. Lockdown is boring. This could be an opportunity from the Lord to spice up my life! I don’t have a date tonight let alone a social gathering of any sort. Even if I break a leg, I work from home! No sweat.

So as you can see my reasoning was…well it was reasoning. That’s about the best that can be said about it.

So I’m running along and I come upon a bridge not very far from where I normally cross the river. This is irritating for obvious reasons, but then I see that at one end of the bridge is a about a 12 foot metal fence with barbs on the top. “Well clearly it is safer to cross the river than hop that. My hands are tied I have to forge the stream to get home.” Man left to his own wits ladies and gentleman.

The run is over and I come to where I normally step into the river and notice that it’s covered in the rushing stream. I’ll have to walk alongside the current for a couple yards before I can get to where I normally cross. Then I notice that after I enter the current I’ll have to move downstream before I can get to the bank where I can climb out. That’s a gift because I’ll naturally be moving on that course, thank you current and rainfall. As I take my first steps into the current I notice that I’m not as strong as I thought I was. At first I blame it on the fact that I just went on a run, then after a few struggled steps I remember that the river is moving quickly and higher than normal. I’m 6 feet and 1 inch tall, most of my height is in my legs…the river was at my waist. This is when I realised this might have been a mistake. The prickling sensation in my legs and feet was expected and tolerable, much more menacing was trying to find rocks underneath the rushing current to avoid. I plug along, sometimes on all fours, and try to keep my focus on the opposite bank and not the rushing water (I got dizzy looking at the water.) It was about at this point when I noticed someone come sit down on the bank I had left. At first I thought that they were just enjoying the river. On second glance my initial thought was confirmed, but not in the way I thought it. They had plopped down to watch me cross the river. I had drawn an audience. I gave ’em a nod and they just shook their head and smiled at me. I had to make it now.

A few steps on and I lose my footing. I’m at the mercy of the river, floating away. I really don’t know how I got a footing back, but I did. It was difficult, and far from graceful, but I was back on my feet. Remembering my audience I look back to recieve a laughing head shake. I shrugged my shoulders and gave them a thumbs up. The rest of the journey was more manageable and I made it to the other side.

After getting into the neighborhood I decided I would run to get the water out of my shoes. This actually worked pretty well and despite being colder than I had been in the water I kept up the pace to keep warm and made it home fine. Only when getting cleaned up did I noticed the impacts on my legs. Nothing too bad, and I thought it comical that I didn’t noticed till I was back and getting cleaned up. Thank you adrenaline!

Why am I telling you this? What does this have to do with anything? Are you encouraging people to do life threatening things at risk of being bored?! Cool your jets reader, all will be revealed.

The reality of our lives is that things going our way means sin. That’s what happens when things really go as we want them to. Do you like hard right turns? Sorry, can’t help it.

Remember all my reasons for crossing the river? They were all about me and what I look like and feel like. My reasoning was self-justified and self-motivated. What did it ultimately result in? Me getting swept away and cut up. Now, I don’t mean to insinuate that I should’ve walked. It was great fun and I’m analyzing this for greater personal reflection. I wouldn’t have been carried very far down the river. There are shallower and slower sections that I could’ve gotten off at downstream. I’m looking less at the action here and more at the motivation. The motivation was pride, and actions rooted in pride do not reap good things. I think the fact that I struggled so much is beautifully representative of how difficult it is to force our own way. You may think at this point that if this was a perfect metaphor I would’ve floated downstream. I disagree. How many wicked, prideful people rise to success relying on their own power and wit? Many. How many virtuous, humble people suffer in obscurity? Many. This world is broken. We are broken. However, we do not currently exist as we were designed to, nor where we were intended to.

‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will, be clean.’” -Mark 1:40a-41 (RSV)

Brothers and sisters, do you believe that Jesus can heal you? Will you let Him? Will you keep imposing your will on that which has yielded to His will? Will you struggle knowing Jesus is watching nearby and waiting for you to ask for help? Do as you will, His love for you will not change.

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