Summary: Do not lose confidence in the Lord.
Hebrews 10:35-36 (KJV) Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
(ESV) Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised
Hebrews 12:1 (KJV) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
(ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Florence Chadwick was the daughter of a San Diego police officer. She grew up on the beach and fell in love with the water. Very early in her life it became evident that Chadwick excelled at endurance swimming. Although she started competitive swimming at age 6, her first victory was in a 2 ½ mile rough water swim at the age of ten, where she placed 4th. A year later she won first place in a six mile rough water race.
Endurance swimming is a unique kind of competition, requiring special abilities and a mental and physical perseverance far beyond what is required of shorter distance swimmers. It requires athletes to keep good form, technique, and concentration for many hours. Most marathon swimmers swim between 60 and 70 strokes a minute. Therefore, a 10-hour swim would require 42,000 strokes, and a 14-hour swim would require 58,000 strokes, which is an incredible feat. There are also hazards unique to open-water, long-distance ocean swimming, the swimmer must navigate through a pitch black night, often dealing with thick fog, enduring swarms of jellyfish and be constantly vigilant about the possible presence of sharks.
Chadwick first made history in her crossing of the English Channel. The Channel swim was considered to be the greatest challenge available to swimmers in her day. The fact that less than seven percent [of those] who attempt to swim across the English Channel complete the 23 mile trip is a testament to the difficulty of the task. On August 8, 1950, after training for two years, Chadwick set a world record for the crossing, swimming from France to England in 13 hours and 20 minutes. On September 11, 1951, Chadwick made a historic return trip and swam back. Despite dense fog and strong headwinds, she prevailed through a 16 hour and 22 minute ordeal and became the first woman to swim the Channel both ways-from France to England as well as from England to France.
Almost a year later she attempted to set another record by becoming the first woman to swim 21 miles across the Catalina Channel on the California coast. She made her first attempt on July 4th, 1952. The weather was dreadful that day. The ocean was ice cold, the fog was so thick that she could hardly see the support boats that followed her, and sharks prowled the water around her. Several times, her support crew used rifles to drive away the sharks. While Americans watched on television, she swam for hours, pressing on and on through the fog. Her mother and her trainer, who were in one of the support boats, encouraged her to keep going. However, after 15 hours and 55 minutes, still unable to see any significant distance through the fog, she succumbed to the circumstances and ended the attempt, asking her support crew to pull her from the water.
What she didn’t realize, when she finally tossed in the towel, was that she was less than a mile from the other shore. She was incredibly close to completing the task but, because she couldn’t see through the dense fog, she had no idea how close she was. After the failed attempt, she told a reporter that, if only she could have seen the other shore, she could have completed the swim. But, while pressing through the fog, unable to see the goal, she became overwhelmed by the sense that she wasn’t making any progress at all. The final goal was out of sight, but the thick fog, the rough seas and the prowling sharks were very evident. In an uncharacteristic moment of weakness, she allowed that which was seen to overwhelm that which was, as of yet, unseen – losing sight of the goal, she surrendered to her circumstances. With over 20 rough miles behind her, she gave up with only a half mile left to go.