As a kid who grew up in Arizona it didn’t take long to realize a pool was where I would spend a majority of my life. My sister and I rode our bikes 3 miles one way to swim practice each morning, would swim for two hours, and ride home to rehydrate and bring our core body temps back down to normal in the air-conditioning. In high school I swam varsity all four years, allowing myself to be challenged by my coach and teammates to develop my skills and endurance. I preferred freestyle and backstroke, could do breaststroke to survive, and hated butterfly. I tried butterfly time and again, but the scene resembled a violent drowning, so, let’s just say at swim meets, I stuck to what I knew which was distance and team relays.
Then one day my coach made me start working on butterfly at practice regularly. Maybe he wasn’t cool with the whole drowning scene, like it made him look bad or something, but regardless, it became part of my daily practice. The funny thing was, the more I practiced the fly, the better I got at it. And then a crazy thing happened…as we sat together at team meeting, our coach told us our meet assignments for the next day. Instead of swimming backstroke in the medley relay he wanted me to swim butterfly. I almost shipped my pants.
Our swim team was made up of all kinds of kids, from freshmen to seniors, different social and friendship circles, every high school stereotype imaginable, and every interest under the sun, we were a colorful and unique bunch. But when it came time to swim, we were a team. When one of us was in a lane for a race, everyone was there cheering. When relay time came, which it did at every single meet, we would take our positions, either as swimmer in the lane or teammates on either end of the pool jumping up and down, yelling, “Go, Go, GOOOO!” with everything inside of us…because even though in the classroom or in life in general we didn’t hold all the same interests, values, or agree on every single thing, in the pool, we were on the same team.
What if God made all of us? What if He loves all of us? What if we’re all on the same team, His team, the one He made? What if The Lord is like our coach who sees abilities and strengths in us we aren’t able to see but He knows if we would simply dedicate time and practice to develop those gifts and use them, not only would we benefit, but the whole team would benefit? What if we are all part of a gigantic relay team and if we don’t start cheering one another on, well, the swim meet will just be lame and individualistic and really no fun at all.
In the history of swim teams there has never been a medley relay without backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and freestyle. Swimmers coming together with unique strengths and abilities, working as a team to accomplish one goal.
What if we were all on the same team and the goal was love?
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:36-38, The Message