Through watching the movie “Finding Nemo” with my grandchildren, Holy Spirit has led me to teaching about “Finding Jesus, just keep walking” through the simple message “Just keep swimming.” I am amazed how God teaches us through His Spirit as we meditate and study the Bible and then uses everyday experiences to solidify our understanding. This is not “surprising” since Jesus spoke to people using examples from their lives to help comprehend spiritual truths but it continues to put me in awe of God each day as He speaks and makes His Word alive in us when we purpose to live in Him.
Here is the second “Just Keep Swimming” scene in the movie “Finding Nemo”. You can watch and/or follow along with my synopsis of the scene.
Marlin finally finds his son but then Dory and Nemo get caught in a fishing net. There is mass pandemonium as the fish try to get free. The boat starts to hoist the net full of fish out of the water when Nemo yells, “Dad, I know what to do. We have to tell all the fish to swim down together”. Marlin replies, “No, get out of there now.” Nemo cries out, “Dad, I know this will work!” But Marlin who is motivated only by fear and failure repeats “No, I am not going to lose you again.” Nemo, motivated by faith, is relentless in his effort to save Dory and the other fish. “Dad, there is no time. It is the only way we can save Dory.” He assures his father, “I can do this.”
At those words, Marlin gets it! He realizes his fear and disappointment are keeping him from letting his son save other lives! He says “You’re right. I know you can.” Nemo takes the lead telling his Dad to get all the fish to swim down together. Marlin yells, “Well, you heard my son”, instructing and exhorting the fish to “Swim! Down! Swim! Down! Swim down! Swim down! Swim down!” Just as the nets are being hoisted and it looks like the fish are losing the battle Marlin says “Don’t give up! Keep swimming! Just keep swimming!” Nemo excitedly exclaims “It’s working,” as the rest of the fish repeat in unison “Keep swimming, Keep swimming!” Marlin too urges them on, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. You’re almost there. Get to the bottom. Keep swimming!” Dory sings as they all just keep swimming. And then Marlin gives a shout out to his son, “You’re doing great son.” To which Nemo brags “That’s my Dad”. And then? Sweet success! The net breaks and the fish are free!
The first thing that stands out is how the encouragement Dory gave to Marlin when he wanted to give up multiplied. If you haven’t seen the first “Just Keep Swimming” scene, watch this short clip.
You will notice Marlin isn’t receptive of Dory as she tries to encourage him to just keep swimming. In fact, he is rather hostile and agitated at her “good mood”. But the result is that her encouraging truthful words were planted in him and at just the right time, when he needed to encourage others, it came out his mouth. There is something about being in the presence of people of faith- they saturate us with hope, joy, and love IF we will be like a sponge and soak it all in. When we practice what they preach, we will preach what we have practiced! Faith and hope will then flow freely and when we realize the purpose of encouragement is to give us courage to keep walking, we look straight ahead and keep going, giving courage to others to do the same. When we put our trust in God and just keep walking, there is no telling what He is going to do, though one thing is assured; it will be a great journey with a great reward when we walk on!
Marlin kept swimming. If he had stopped and went back home, he may never have found Nemo, may never have overcome fear, and may never have helped save the lives of all the captured fish (makes you think twice about eating fish doesn’t it?) We must keep walking because if we stop we may never find the “more” God has in store for us, may never overcome the fear which plagues and paralyzes many Christians today, and may never share the Gospel with others so they too can enjoy the depth of Jesus’ love. Knowing Truth sets people free, no matter how dire our circumstances seem.
When our eyes of faith are fixed on what we cannot see we will not be disheartened. It is actually by “not” seeing that we are encouraged to just keep walking. If we always knew exactly what is ahead not only might we give up, but it would also be rather boring! The excitement in life is discovered as we walk by faith not knowing where or when our next breakthrough is coming. In this way when we look back at our life we glory in what God has brought us through and done in us. Thus we keep walking because we love to walk by faith, being unmoved by disappointment, remaining ever eager to see what God is going to do next. With this outlook it doesn’t matter if we have one more corner to turn or fifty before our next breakthrough, as long as we know and allow God to be in control! 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward 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.”
The Word of God even tells us there is an appointed time to reap (to experience the reward of walking in faith). Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Weariness is rampant in the United States today, even in the Church! Yet, God says let’s not become weary in doing good! A harvest is promised! Oh, I know! It is sometimes very difficult to believe, especially if you have done good for years without reaping. When we repeatedly try and don’t see results we get tired and stop trying. My only response is continue to believe God’s promise found in His Word, refusing to become weary or throw in the towel, knowing and believing the harvest is coming. And chances are, it won’t look like you thought it would! So, just keep walking!
If you are unfamiliar with the movie “Finding Nemo”, it is a frantic search for a fish-napped little guy named Nemo! Throughout the movie there is a sense of the “little guy” winning in the end. Through his adventures as an orphaned fish, Nemo learned survival skills, how to overcome, how to trust others, and how to keep the hope alive that one day he would be reunited with his father. He just kept swimming no matter how discouraging circumstances were, no matter what obstacles came to hinder him, and no matter how much his life was threatened.
As God’s children, we too learn skills necessary not only to survive but to be victorious in this lifetime. We learn to trust others in the body of Christ, always keeping the hope that one day, we will spend eternity with our heavenly Father. The reunion is going to be out of this world! So we just keep walking by faith no matter what obstacles and threats come our way to discourage and thwart the plans of God for our lives.
Through Nemo’s experiences and tenacity to just keep swimming, he became a hero! He knew the truth (he could do it) and the truth set him free. By applying this truth, he was able to set others free. Likewise when we just keep walking in faith, living in Jesus who is Truth, we are free and can lead others to freedom. John 8:31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Nemo’s willingness to just keep swimming made him a fighter, willing to fight for himself and others! Our willingness to just keep walking in faith makes us fighters. 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” When we believe in the power of God and His abilities we become convinced of what He is capable of doing through us and will proclaim “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) This assertion is definitely above and beyond mere survival! Without this good fight of faith in us we stay dependent on circumstances to change before making our good confession. By making our “can do” confession we are strengthened to fight in and for our faith!
And no one likes to fight alone! Because Nemo persevered, he understood the power and strength in unity. Many times he depended on others to get him out of hard places. So when the time came for him to help others get out of an impossible situation, he knew just what to do; get everyone into agreement and then just do it! He even needed to convince his father he could do it. Once that happened and they all swam down, they experienced victory! There is power and strength to overcome in the body of Christ as well. As we work together, each of us doing our part, we are most effective. Ephesians 4:15-16 “…speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does it share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” When we move as one body anything can happen! We need to be convinced that something good is going to happen when we just keep walking. That convincing comes through Christ Jesus!
Jesus pleads with us to trust Him because He has gone through it all, to the point of death so that we will just keep walking! We get to encourage one another in faith, and there also comes a time when we each need to step up to the plate and encourage others, just like Marlin! We cannot stay dependent on other people’s faith forever to sustain our own. There is a multitude of lost people depending on us to just keep walking. We can only keep walking if we are being equipped! Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” As we continue to be equipped we are edified and enlightened, with the ability to stay un-ensnared by the things of this world or paralyzed by catastrophic events that shake us. Being equipped keeps us from being ruled by fear of what is known or unknown, distrustful, or unwilling to just keep walking!
We all get equipped at different rates and for different tasks! That is okay as long as we are all in the process of “getting it”! Nemo got it a lot quicker than his Dad! But you’ll notice by the end of the scene Marlin became the encourager, exhorting everyone else to just keep swimming! Encouragement is encouraging! It is contagious. What a beautiful picture of “getting it”! And to top it all off, Nemo gives all the credit to his Dad when he proudly proclaims, “That’s my Dad!”
Okay, Marlin is NOTHING like our heavenly Father. But, oh, how we need to brag up our Dad! Our heavenly Father is worthy of all praise! If Nemo is proud of his Dad who wasn’t even close to being perfect how much more ought we to be proud of our Abba Father? That’s my Dad! He is the One who made the way – makes the way – and will always prepare a way – all we have to do is just keep walking “…til we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)