I leaned how to swim when I was in elementary school. Buses would pull up and load several classes and off we’d go to a hotel swimming pool for the morning. A loud instructor would teach us how to keep afloat by kicking our feet and using our arms. Eventually we got the hang of it and swam across the pool. We learned not to be afraid of water. Swimming skills have stuck with me throughout life. With water all around us in Canada, it’s good to know how to swim. I tried to pass these skills along to my sons, all of whom can swim, and they seem to be acquainting my grandchildren with water safety too.

As we go through life it’s not unlike swimming. Sometimes the water is smooth and it’s easy to move through it. But other times it gets rough and dangerous. God warns us in the scriptures that sin and temptation lurks everywhere, trying to pull us down. We must learn how to deal with it, how to keep from drowning. Mary Baker’s 1974 hymn says it well, “Torrents of sin and of anguish sweep o’er my sinking soul! And I perish, I perish, dear Master; O hasten and take control.” Sink or swim?

The Hebrew writer recommended fellowship, encouragement and attention given to the word of God as a defense. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called today, lest anyone of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb.4:13) Learning the habit of regular fellowship at meeting times is much like learning to swim – it can save your life if you keep it up. We must learn to look forward to the classes and assemblies provided for us and treat them with respect and reverence. They train us for the rough times that inevitably come into our lives.

Like teaching our children to swim, we need to teach them the skills of spiritual survival too. Learning the habits of fellowship and teaching is something we instil in them. When you keep it up yourself, you also show them how to do it. It can stay with them for life. They won’t be afraid when things get rocky. They will have learned how to depend on God.

How are your swimming skills? Are you passing them on?

– Tim Johnson