Sink or Swim

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9


At 35 weeks Baby Chris’ mouth is practicing sucking movements to be ready to eat once born. His pupils now dilate when the sun or bright light filter into the uterus. The primary focus of his development now is fat accumulation. His lungs are currently filled with fluid which will be eliminated when he takes his first breath.


There are a few things we know about human beings and water: they either sink or swim; fat helps people float; and if lungs are filled with water, humans drown and die. Fat is less dense than water, so people who have more fat are more likely to float on the water with little effort, while a leaner, more muscular person will probably have to make more of an effort to float because of “negative buoyancy.” When a swimmer’s lungs are full of air, they act like balloons to aid buoyancy, but if the swimmer exhales, he will begin to sink, and possibly drown, dying by suffocation from a lack of air caused by fluid in the lungs, usually water.


But in the “indoor pool” of the womb, things are, quite literally, inside-out. Even though a baby’s lungs are full of amniotic fluid, the baby doesn’t “drown” because oxygen is being delivered from the placenta via the umbilical cord. (For more on breathing inside the womb, see Week 23, “Breath of Heaven”; for more on the way the placenta works, see Week 29, “Life Support.”) This week we have a human being submerged in fluid - but who doesn’t need to float inside the womb - effortlessly laying on the fat that will help him float in water outside the womb; and whose lungs are filled with fluid, but who isn’t drowning. This is a paradox: a seemingly self-contradictory set of facts or circumstances that are all true at the same time; or a self-contradictory declaration that is in fact true.


Scripture contains the very thoughts of God, whose thoughts have lots of paradoxes: Believers are strongest when they are weak (II Corinthians 12:10, 13:9); we receive the most when we give the most (Acts 20:35); we are the most free through servitude (Matthew 23:11; Romans 6:18); we gain through losing - the first must be last (Philippians 3:7-8; Mark 9:35); God exalts the humble and humbles the exalted (I Samuel 2:8; Ezekiel 21:26; James 4:10). We gain life through dying (Luke 17:33; John 12:24; Romans 8:13; Galatians 5:24); and find through losing (Matthew 10:39). James 1:2 says that we should “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”


It was a paradox when Jesus to spoke God’s peace to His disciples despite their reasonable expectation that the strong storm would swamp the small boat, and the impossible idea that any man could control the weather with a word (Mark 4:34-41). It was a paradox when Paul was confident enough to prepare a meal to strengthen the flagging crew, even though their impending shipwreck was a certainty (Acts 27).


None of these truths or experiences make sense to the natural mind of one living in the natural world – but all of these truths are sourced in the mind of God and are the guides for the daily lives of Believers who desire to live in Christ.


The most precious paradox of all is that God gave his only Son to die that we might live (John 3:16); that our faith in God is itself a gift from God; and that we will be found faithful and blameless at the coming of Christ because He is blameless and faithful and “He will surely do it” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).


Following the example of Baby Chris, we need only to rest, float and breathe – regardless of the trial – until we are delivered.


“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are His judgments and how unfathomable His ways.”

Romans 11:33


Photo credit: Seth Casteel, “Underwater Babies,” LostatEminor.com

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