Sometimes life is just very hard! Most people would agree there are times it seems no matter how much we try or believe, things don’t work out and maybe we are tempted to give up. There have been those instances in my life when I truly believed God was going to do something or was leading me in a particular direction and it didn’t work out. When this happens repeatedly it is easy to get frustrated, disheartened and maybe even start to feel hopeless. In the past, I would simply lower my expectations hoping to avoid further disappointment. But I have learned that is never a good idea because in effect I end up more frustrated by not having faith in my God who specializes in doing the impossible. Now, when life is hard and things don’t work out, I just keep on walking! Easier said than done but no less true! This reminds me of a movie scene that is a favorite in our household!
My grandson, Solomon, loves to come to our house and watch the movie “Finding Nemo”! Our favorite time to watch is early in the morning as he sits next to me with his cereal and juice, I with my computer, and we talk, play, read, sometimes watch the movie, but basically just hang out together. My granddaughter, Makkedah, has become equally fascinated with “Nemo” so we get even more opportunity to share this fishy tale. Even though I have never watched the entire movie, there are two “Just Keep Swimming” scenes that catch my attention.
For those who are not familiar with the movie, it is a story about Marlin, a Daddy fish who searches for his missing son, Nemo, who was fish-napped from the ocean by a diver. Marlin meets up with Dory, an absent-minded, upbeat fish, and together they search for Nemo. In one of the “Just Keep Swimming” scenes Marlin is angry, tired and frustrated because he and Dory just lost the one item they were using to find Nemo; the diver’s scuba mask which had his name and address on it. Marlin is devastated because he feels this was his last hope of finding his son.
Dory tries to humor and encourage Marlin in his darkest moment saying “Hey Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down ya know what you gotta do?” Marlin responds “I don’t wanna know what you gotta do.” (a typical response when we are frustrated-we don’t want to hear anything good). Dory sings “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.” Marlin interrupts her “Dory, no singing.” (another typical response when we refuse to be encouraged) Dory just continues on “Ha,ha,ho,ho,ho. I love to swim. When you want to swim you want to swim.” (remember they are fish, of course they love to swim) Marlin is extremely agitated at this point exclaiming “Now I’m stuck with that song…Now it’s in my head.” (one last typical response – we change the subject to stay in our hopeless state) To which Dory replies “Sorry.”
This brief scene gives a glimpse of what we might experience when life is hard and we get tired of trying, feeling like all hope is gone. We can get pretty grumpy! And like Marlin, we can be so desperate for breakthrough that when it doesn’t happen we get angry, tired, and frustrated with our inability to find what we are looking for in life. Then God sends someone into our lives, like a Dory, to encourage and pull us out of our pit, reminding us to keep going! But our response is probably much like Marlin’s “I don’t want to know what to do when life gets me down.” Or “I already know what to do I just don’t want to do it right now.”
When life gets us down we need people, who like Dory, will give encouragement even when it is rejected. They are gifts to the body of Christ as they sing over and exhort others to just keep walking. Keep going, doing, and trying! They only know one option in life – Just Keep Walking! The Dory’s of life see the glass as half full while the “Marlin’s” see it as half empty. Not only do they encourage others to keep walking but they love to walk in Jesus. You see, not only do we need the reminder to keep going but we also need to remember we love to do what we do. In other words, the Dory’s not only keep living but they love life! They know the only way to breakthrough is to keep walking and we might as well enjoy the journey!
When life got them down, Marlin and Dory had to just keep swimming. When life gets us down, we have to just keep walking in Jesus! His Word puts it this way…Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (lose heart).” We simply cannot afford to waste time feeling sorry for ourselves and nursing feelings of hopelessness when things aren’t working out because if we do, we risk giving up and losing heart! And the good news is when we live a ferocious life in Jesus we will just keep walking. We must refuse to lose heart! Dwelling on feelings of disappointment and despondency moves us from faith to failure while dwelling on the Truth moves us from failure to faith!
Living in this world brings daily opportunity to be angry, get tired, and frustrated to the point of wanting to give up. Marlin had every right to give up hope as he was searching in an OCEAN for his son. What an impossible situation! There are times in life when we believe for something from God and it seems hopeless as time after time, things do not work out. It can feel like we are swimming in an ocean of uncertainty with no possibility of finding what we are looking for and we are tempted to give up. But when we just keep walking we will find Someone far more meaningful than anything we are believing for!
The more we just keep walking by faith and not by sight, the more of everything we will experience in life including disappointment because we can’t see where we are going. But disappointment need not disappoint us because when we just keep walking by faith we will also experience more of God, more opportunities for growth, more excitement, joy, peace, mercy breakthroughs, victories, love, power, grace, and miracles! Through it all we must remember not to lose heart! The Word of God assures us life will be hard but just keep walking!
2 Corinthians 4:1,8,9,16-18 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
What an extraordinary word! Much better than Dory’s! We have received mercy from God so it doesn’t really matter how bad things look! We cannot be crushed, we do not walk in despair, and we are not forsaken or destroyed. We do not lose heart no matter how hard we are pressed, or perplexed, or persecuted, or struck down because our inner man is being renewed every day of our lives! This is great motivation to just keep walking! Every affliction in this lifetime is working something bigger and eternal for us when we just keep walking in Jesus! Just keep believing!
Much of our frustration and disappointment in life occurs because our hopes and dreams are focused in this world and when they are not fulfilled we are tempted to just stop walking. But if our hopes and dreams center on eternal things which we cannot see, we will not be disappointed in this lifetime and we will just keep walking. I think the point should be made that even if our hopes and dreams focus on “God stuff” we can still get side-tracked by all the things we “can” and “can’t” see if they do not line up the way we thought God was showing us they would. We must understand that even these “things” are still of this world. But the things which are not seen, the eternal things, are those that matter most.
I want to point out one more special truth from this scene. Dory belts out “I love to swim! When you want to swim you want to swim.” Desire is a beautiful thing! Marlin and Dory love to swim. In fact they were created to swim. Marlin needed to be reminded of that truth. Wanting to do something creates a desire to keep doing it! When we want to do something we want to do it! That is so simple it is hard to grasp! Psalms 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Oh, that this would be the one thing we desire in life! When we want to dwell with Him all the days of our life we want to dwell with Him all the days of our life! When we want to behold the beauty of the Lord we want to behold the beauty of the Lord! When we want to inquire in His temple we want to inquire in His temple! Bask in the simplicity of this truth! The more we want the more we want!
The next time any of us are tempted to be Mr. or Ms. Grumpy Pants because we feel hopeless let’s do this instead! “Just keep walking. Just keep walking. Just keep walking, walking, walking. What do we do? We walk, walk!”
Colossians 2:6 “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”
Tune into the next blog for the second helping of Just Keep Swimming! Just Keep Walking!