A Life in 20 Laps
I started swimming eight years ago and now swim 20 laps a day several times a week. In a way, swimming has become my addiction. My body would ache if I didn’t have my swimming fix. Besides the obvious physical benefits, I have also gained spiritual insights from swimming.
In the pool, I notice people swimming at various speeds. Some swim past me in a splash, others pass me slowly, while others swim beside me. There are also those who just enjoy swimming in slow motion. Some don’t even swim; they just walk, float, paddle, stretch and exercise.
I’ve found it pointless to compete with others when I swim. In the first place, no one cares if I am faster or slower than my imagined competitor. Also, if I were to try to swim faster, I would not be able to finish my 20 laps before going into cardiac arrest or at least becoming totally exhausted. Each person has to swim at their own pace to complete their course.
Besides speed, people swim with different styles: free style, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly or their own unique style. Some people change their styles from lap to lap, while others stick to one style. The styles have little correlation to the things some people put on: goggles, fins, caps, earplugs, snorkels, or footwear. Regardless of a person’s style or appearance, the main idea is their ability to move forward.
The diversity of swimmers reminds me of the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12 concerning the wide variety of gifts in the church. It also reminds me that I do not need to compare myself with others. Each of us has to find our own way and meaning in life. We are not here to impress others or become intimidated by them.
Some of my friends assume that I like swimming because I go so often. The truth is, I like swimming for the health benefits and sense of well being it brings. If I could have the benefits of swimming without putting in my 20 laps, I would no longer swim. But swimming is a necessary means to a desirable end.
There are several things I do to make my 20 laps more enjoyable. These things help me go to the pool and stay there for 30 minutes.
Physically, I try to keep close to the center of my lane and monitor my heartbeat as well as my speed. Mentally, I try to think of possible topics and Scripture passages I can speak on for specific speaking engagements. Spiritually, I pray for individuals. Emotionally, I try to feel the sensation of the water moving over my body.
I break my laps into markers. The 10th lap is important to me because it is my halfway marker. The remaining 10 laps are like going downhill, and I am confident I can finish the course. Life is similar to this: a good beginning, say the first 30 to 40 years, greatly helps to make the second half more fruitful and fulfilling.
Both in swimming and in life, it is helpful to have markers and short-term goals to make our life goal more attainable. The discipline required in swimming is similarly required in Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, service and giving. Parallel benefits are also found in these spiritual exercises. We do these spiritual exercises and activities for the benefits of knowing and pleasing God. Swimming, anyone?