I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t like being in water. My mother, who incidentally never entered the sea, often took our family to the beach where we played at the edge of the water. When I was six-years-old, she took me to swimming lessons, a passion I have kept ever since.
Thankfully, we don’t normally get a lot of fog. However, this year we have had quite a number of foggy days which made our work more challenging, and, because of my love of swimming, my thoughts turned to the story of Florence Chadwick.
Losing sight of what’s ahead
In the summer of 1952, Florence entered the water at Catalina Island (which lies off the Pacific coast of California), aiming to swim approximately 20 miles to the mainland. Florence was an American swimmer known for her ability to swim long distances in open water, and was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. However, on this occasion, she was swimming for more than 15 hours when she had to be taken out of the water.
Due to fog, Florence had lost sight of the shoreline, frustratingly, she was only a short distance from her destination. At a news conference she said, “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”
This story brought to my mind how, quite often, farm work is challenging and we can’t seem to find a way to overcome the difficulties presented to us. At times, we become so caught up with our farm it dominates our every waking thought, and perhaps even our dreams! God may seem remote and far away and it is very easy to feel overwhelmed.
There are many stories relating to water in the Bible. One story that amazes me is when Jesus was in the boat with his disciples on the Sea of Galilee and they were hit by a storm.
“Then he got into the boat and His disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” (Matthew 8:23-27).
Jesus knows the way – and is the way
Jesus has authority over everything so we can have confidence in placing our trust in Him and listening to His voice. While He doesn’t promise to take all our problems away, He does promise to be with us in the midst of our ‘storms’. Florence Chadwick’s remark, “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it” reminds us that the amazing nature of the Christian faith is that we only need to look to Jesus for reassurance of who we are and where we are going.
Jesus invites each of us to trust Him daily with our lives, knowing that He is the way both for this life and the life to come. As Jesus tells us Himself, “‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
Charlotte Stevenson farms with her husband, Jim, and son, James near Kilkeel in County Down and is a member of Mourne Presbyterian Church. Having worked in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Assembly Buildings in Belfast for a number of years, Charlotte retired in December 2017.
Her blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life.
You can read other blogs in this series here.
Photo credit: Matthias Süßen/Wikimedia Commons
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at email@example.com or call him on 07938 488 372.