“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
- John 14:1-3 NKJV
In 1952, Florence Chadwick was in the process of setting a new world record: swimming 26 miles in the open ocean. You see, Florence Chadwick was one of the world's most famous "open ocean" swimmers. By this time in 1952, she had already set world records by crossing the English Channel in record time...twice.
Her first time she navigated the English Channel from the shores of England to France in just over 13 hours. The second time Florence accomplished this amazing feat, swimming against the current, she crossed from France back over to England in just over 16 hours. This double achievement made her the first female swimmer in history, to cross the English Channel both ways.
But now, Florence Chadwick was about to embark on another jaw-dropping feat: performing a 26 mile open ocean swim, from the west coast of California to the island of Catalina. To make matters worse, the waters off the coast of California can be bone-numbingly cold and shark infested!
But none of this deterred the iron-willed athlete, Florence Chadwick. For months on end she had been training to prepare her body for the frigid waters and the dangerously grueling swim to Catalina Island. She was determined to conquer the water, and to set a new world record yet again.
When the fateful day of her record-breaking swim arrived, she embarked into the water surrounded by a team of paramedics, medical professionals, and was even followed by her very own mother in the floating entourage. The purpose of this medical and support team was to protect Florence from any possible shark attack, but also to give any medical assistance necessary over the course of her grueling swim.
After Florence had been swimming for over 15 hours, things took a turn for the worse. A huge bank of fog rolled over the water and was so intense that the entire team was disorientated, and Florence was no longer sure of her position relative to the shore. As if this wasn't bad enough, she began to be overcome by muscular exhaustion, fatigue, and possible hypothermia. She was utterly confused in the water, not sure of her position or direction, and her emotions began to crack under the strain of the mounting circumstances. Eventually, Florence began to cry uncontrollably, fearing that she no longer had the stamina to complete her swim, and terrified that she wouldn't be able to make it to the finish.
Her mother and her personal doctor tried desperately to encourage Florence and buoy her hopes, but to no avail. Florence, after being disoriented by the fog, and overcome by physical exhaustion, made the difficult decision to quit her swim. She was pulled out of the water, placed in the medical boat, and lovingly wrapped in a blanket. The team, still lost and confused in the fog bank, now attempted to determine their position and distance from the shoreline.
As her team navigated their way through the dense embankment of fog and mist, they finally managed to emerge from it. They discovered to their horror, that Florence had quit her swim within only 1 mile of the shoreline! Surrounded by the fog, and unable to keep the shore in view, she had given up within the reach of her ultimate goal.
Later, when Florence attended a press conference covering her attempt at a new world record, she made this comment regarding her decision:
"I think I could've made it, if only I could have seen the shore."
This story from the life of Florence Chadwick, adapted from Randy Alcorn's book "Heaven", aptly illustrates the struggle that many Christians are facing today: they also feel like quitting and giving up, since they can't truly see the shoreline of Heaven.
Surrounded by the fog of life, and engulfed in the mists of problems and tribulations, many Christians simply feel like they should give up on their walk with Christ, and throw in the spiritual towel. Discouragement, depression, spiritual warfare, seem to afflict a large number of Christians to such a degree that they feel despondent, detached, and apathetic towards the things of God.
I believe that the solution to the dilemma is partially found by rediscovering, or perhaps discovering for the very first time, the biblical truth and amazing reality of Heaven!
So today, read again the words of Jesus in John 14 on Heaven. His encouragement for the disciples, is also for you today. Heaven is real, and Jesus will return soon to take you there forever! Let His promise sink down deep into your heart...and keep your eyes on the shoreline of Heaven today!