I was in high school when a certain Disney animation first hit the big screen. As seniors, my friends and I made the most of our emerging freedom to do what all grown-up, mature seniors do. We went to see Finding Nemo. And we loved it. We saw it countless times, bought and wore t-shirts, car ornaments and more, fully giving ourselves — and our college funds — to this masterpiece. My closest group of friends spoke exclusively in Whale… in the hallway… where 700+ other students could hear us… without shame… for weeks!
There is one scene in this film that we acted out more than the others. I haven’t seen the film in years but I can clearly picture Dory and Marlin in this crisis because the only clue to finding Marlin’s son is lost in the depths of the sea. He is completely distraught, all doom and gloom, and Dory offers up this piece of advice that I have called upon in all life’s greatest challenges. She says, “When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”
I am not sure if James would have fully appreciated the glory that is Finding Nemo, and he likely would not have treated Dory’s words as theology. But there is something about his message, in James 5:7-11, that reminds me of this movie. Verses 7 and 8 say,
“Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until he receives the early and late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
I know that often there is nothing worse than patience, right? But check those farmers out again, because while they are waiting, they are also working. Hello, you cannot expect precious fruit from the earth if you do not first prepare the earth, and then tend to the things that grow, all the while you are waiting for the fruit to come in.
James tells us what we are waiting for: “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
The coming of the Lord… I would not tell you I often wait for that. Waiting for vacation? Yep, counting down the days, I’ve got five more sleeps. Preteen camp? Sure thing, we are less than two months away, and I cannot wait. To be done with my Masters Degree? You know it. That date is a little more elusive, but I am looking for it nonetheless. I am waiting for all sorts of things, but the coming of Lord does not often make this list. James reminded me that I should be waiting for Him — and not just waiting, but preparing my heart. I have spiritual things to do!
Just saying that makes me tired. Both waiting and working for the Lord can be exhausting, and more often than not I feel like I am failing at the whole establishing your heart thing. It is no wonder we allow it to slide off our radar. When those moments happen I remind myself that James says in verse 11 that those who remain steadfast are considered blessed. I want that to be me! Or Paul, who says in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
I want to see myself here, reaping good things because I kept going. Or Dory, who reminds us that sometimes the best way to work through waiting is to just keep swimming. I can do that. I can just keep swimming no matter how paramount this challenge feels!
What are you waiting for? Will you remain steadfast? Will you refuse to grow weary of the good you are doing? Will you keep just swimming?