Daddy Swim Lessons and the God Who Won’t Let Go

Nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ. This is a promise given to believers in Jesus – that come what may, whether it be danger or need or suffering or whatever – that none of those things will separate us from God’s love. So wrote the Apostle Paul in the glorious 8th chapter of the book of Romans:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

It’s important to note that the reality that’s threaded throughout these verses. The reason the love of God was in question for these early believers is because everything in this list was actually a threat to them. There were real dangers. Real affliction. Real persecution. Real swords. And the promise here is not that God would take away any or all these threats, but that no matter how many the believer might face, none of them would cause a rift in the love of God in Christ. The promise, then, does not fuel some pie-in-the-sky notion that God’s love means a lack of difficulty, but instead fuels our resolve to believe deeply in this love when the difficulty happens.

The promise reminds us that God’s love cannot be measured by our circumstances. It is measured by the demonstration of that love at the cross.

How wonderful to consider that our place in God’s family is not determined by our grip on God, but instead by His grip on us. It is His love, His strength, His grace that keeps us. It is not our own. A little illustration here to help.

There has always been a right of pilgrimage in the Kelley house. That’s because at our local YMCA, there is a strict rule about when kids can be in the swimming pool by themselves. In order to gain that cherished right of independence, each child has to pass a YMCA administered swim test. They have to swim the length of a pool, without assistance, doing a proper freestyle stroke. And once the complete that challenge, they are gifted with the coveted green armband – their badge of honor and courage to say to every onlooker that yes, they can indeed swim. Or at least swim well enough.

So each of our children, to gear up for this monumental feat of strength and endurance, went through the rigorous training program of “Daddy Swim Lessons.” Now to be clear, I’m not a great swimmer. Or even a good swimmer. But I think I could pass the YMCA swim test, and I know enough to float on my back without panicking if I get tired. So for a season, I took each of the three kids to the pool on Saturday mornings to learn a few of the basics. They worked hard and they all got that coveted armband. But I got something, too.

Every summer, I had bruises on my neck.

You put a child in the water and they cling to you. HARD. They cling with a violent intensity because they are convinced, in that moment, that their strength is really what’s keeping them from drowning.

But us daddy’s have a secret – it’s not their strength keeping the kids afloat. It’s ours. The reason they aren’t going to drown is because we won’t let them.

But then there’s the wonderful moment when they realize that their dad’s grip is stronger than theirs. You can almost see the freedom flicker into their eyes. They suddenly come to the understanding, in a childlike way, that their perseverance – their safety – isn’t dependent on their ability to hold on. Their arms are child’s arms. They get tired. But their father’s arms are far stronger. And even when they let go because of exhaustion, their father is not going to let them go.

See, I’m their father. And I love them. And praise be to God, that there is a greater Father with greater strength that holds His children more securely than I can fathom.

Subscribe to

Never miss a new post. Subscribe to receive these posts in your inbox and to receive information about new discipleship resources.

You have successfully subscribed. Click here to download your bonus.