Rodney’s Reflection: Open Water

Since Mid March I haven’t been able to swim. Before that I was swimming two or three mornings a week. But the last 3 weeks with warmer weather, Allison and I have been open water swimming at Lake Lewisville. This is a fairly new adventure for me. I have only swum in the open water maybe a dozen times and I am still learning. One of the most important pieces of equipment in open water swimming is a swim buoy.

Wednesday morning when we swam, the water was almost like glass. The water was almost as still as the pool. It was beautiful and enjoyable. I was able to get into a rhythm with my breathing and everything felt really good. I felt I might not have needed my swim buoy. Which was so nice. Because on Friday, at our swim, there was a strong north wind and the water was choppy. The waves were worse than swimming in the ocean. It was much harder than I expected. I never got a rhythm to my stokes and breathing. I was nervous the whole time. It was my worst experience yet of open water swimming. I stopped many times and just held on to my buoy floating, catching my breath, before starting again. I only swam a 1/3 of what we normally swim. I was exhausted.

What a difference a day can make. What a difference, the type of open water can make in how far and how confident swimming can be. I was wearing the same gear, swimming in the same spot, trying to swim the same distance, I had swum twice before, but my experience was completely different.

Isn’t this true for other parts of our lives?

Don’t you long for the times of calm? For easy days, smooth sailing, for routine and rhythms where you don’t feel anxious, but instead feel confident?

I don’t know about you, but COVID-19 has created some choppy days in my life. Not just in swimming, but in parenting, marriage, and pastoring. I have times when I don’t feel confident, I find myself feeling out of my daily rhythms, and I feel exhausted. COVID-19, social distancing, homeschool, and pastoring during a pandemic is all new to me. I have days that feel really choppy.

How about you? Are you feeling this way at all?

What I realized this week is Life is a lot like open water swimming and God is like our swim buoy. There are going to be calm days and choppy days and in both day God is right there with us. On the calm days, you might not even notice or even feel like you need it. But on the choppy days, you cling to it.

God is like a swim buoy there for us to hold on to, to provide us rest, and to give us confidence to just keep swimming. God is like my swim buoy in the open waters of life.

This is good news. God is with us, in both the calm and the choppy water. God is right there with you. And no matter how bad things get, God will never leave you.

If you are feeling the choppy waters right now, where is your swim buoy? Are you grabbing ahold? Are you reaching out for help or trying to keep going alone?

Paul reminders us in 1 Corinthians 13 we are the body of Christ. God’s people are the incarnation, the hands and feet of Christ, the body of Christ in our world. You and I are each others swim buoys.

I urge you if you are feeling the choppy water to not give up, but instead to cling to your faith in God and the body of Christ, The incarnation of God is made real in community. So lean in, be vulnerable and real with each other. Be real with your pastors, your small group bible study and Sunday school group about to the waters you are experiencing. The struggle is real, but so is our swim buoy, God.


Rev. Rodney Whitfield
Senior Pastor, Aldersgate UMC