Treasure Valley Prays

Swimming Lessons

man scrolling his phone

Come gather’ round wherever you roam,
and admit that the waters around you have grown,
accept it that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone.
And if your breath to you is worth saving
then you better start swimming, or you’ll sink like a stone,
for the times, they are a changin’.

In 1963 Bob Dylan wrote these opening lines to a song which reflected the events which surrounded those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. To describe those times, he drew an analogy between the pace of change and the experience of drowning. For many of us this still holds true. Today, however, it isn’t hippies and civil rights marches that create a disorienting landscape. It is the age of the internet, of computers and iPhones and the increasing pace with which we are getting information—everybody has one and is paying attention to them—so much that without one you may feel like you’re missing out on something important. It feels like if you’re not tuned in and holding one of these instruments you may “sink like a stone.”

A study done some years ago by the New York Times confirms that the rate at which information arrives may make it difficult to keep our heads above water. The investigation revealed that one weekday issue of the Times carried more news than a person who lived a hundred years ago would have been exposed to in an entire lifetime. One person has remarked that the attempt to keep up with this flow of information is like trying to sip water from an open fire hydrant!

The rate of change is certainly the norm in our present day—even as we’ve experienced the last sixteen months of pandemic. Nationwide—worldwide, even—new technologies such as the COVID vaccines have far outpaced our ability to design means for applying these advances equitably and ethically. The costs and need for efficiency sometimes threaten our capacities to keep processes and procedures at a pace to which human beings can adjust. As a society we have been fooled into believing that “faster” is “better,” so that many of us feel like Lucille Ball in that classic television sketch of the chocolate candy assembly line…we simply cannot keep up.

Who or what is your anchor? It may be a marriage partner, a trusted friend, a relationship with your Creator, or a familiar river or other peaceful spot in nature. Be sure to find someone or something upon which you can depend where you feel like you are drowning. You will then be able to cope with life, make wise choices, and tap the spiritual resources that allow you to respond to change with endurance and flexibility.

One solution to surviving a rapid rate of change, ironically, is to find an “unchangeable” that you can use as an anchor. In scripture we find the author of Numbers telling a curious story of Ballam and his donkey (chapters 22-24) in which Ballam makes this statement about God’s unvarying identity:

God is not human, that he (sic) should lie,
Not a human being that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill? (23:19)

God’s love is constant, is dependable, and flows from a spring that does not run dry. For many people of faith, God gives them a sense a stability that is a crucial counterweight in the face of the changes and challenges that come from living in the twenty-first century. You can trust God even though you may feel like you are swimming up-stream. God will give you all you need because God promises that for you and will fulfill those promises. Blessings to you today!

Picture of Kent Schaufelberger

Kent Schaufelberger

MDiv, Retired Chaplain, ACPE Certified Educator

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