Journey to the Cross
A noted long-distance swimmer set out one morning to swim the 30 miles between Catalina Island and Long Beach, California. She had already successfully swum the English Channel between Great Britain and France numerous times and several other long-distance swims as well. She set out that morning from Long Beach confident of her ability to reach Catalina. As it often happens, there was a heavy fog that had rolled in over Catalina and the beach areas, a fog that typically burns off and clears well before midmorning. But this day, as the swimmer made her way towards the island coast, the fog did not lift. The ocean began to get a little choppier as the morning progressed, but the swimmer continued on. She swam steadily and strongly, relying on her support boat to keep her pointed in the right direction. Hour after hour, she swam. And then, suddenly, to the surprise of her crew on the support boat, she lifted her arm and signaled for them to pick her up. She was done, she couldn’t finish, and they pulled her up out of the water. Was it a cramp? No. Was it the choppy water? No. Was she exhausted? No. She felt fine. It was the fog. Swimming hour after hour without being able to see her progress or her goal simply sapped her will to continue swimming. She stopped, she would later discover, a few hundred yards from shore.
What is it that can keep us going when we cannot see the shore? When our days pass and it seems as if we’re just treading water, going nowhere in life? How is it that we find both direction and encouragement to continue on when the fog of uncertainty and doubt settle in?
I am convinced that more things go undone, more hopes go unrealized, more relationships fall apart, and more faith goes by the wayside because of fog and not fatigue. When we are unable to see the way before us or are unclear about the path in front of us, we grow disheartened and disoriented. Anxious and fearful. Weary and lost. We aren’t even sure how to handle good news anymore, not sure if we dare risk being hopeful and happy. The women who had gone to Jesus’ tomb expecting to find the dead body of their leader came so disoriented and fearful that even when they heard the good news that He had risen, they fled in terror and told no one what they had seen and heard. Throughout our Lenten worship and on to the celebration of Easter, we ask ourselves again…how is it that Jesus Christ can be the answer to the fatigue and fog that affect us all? How can we know that He stands with us today offering a new life that cuts through that fog and fatigue with a vision of hope and courage? How can we find in our worship, study of the Bible, in serving and in prayer the Truth that gives us clarity for the path and work before us?
We are here in these rich and reflective days of Lent to remember, discover and announce what has been proclaimed for thousands of Easters before, that Jesus Christ is risen and goes ahead of us to prepare the way. Because there are still mountains to move, fools to forgive, enemies to love, and hearts and mouths that hunger for more. There is a world that needs people willing to care for it and steward it. People who’ve not yet heard or known that life is both precious and redeemable, and that springtime does in fact happen in graves as well as on top of them and in hearts as well as gardens. And, more than that, because there is a Savior out ahead of us saying, “Come, and follow me.”