Tag Archives: Florence Chadwick

Thinking about heaven


How often do you think about heaven? Often, occassionally, rarely? I’ve been thinking about heaven more and more over the past three years, and more so in recent months. It seems to me there are things “I know,” things I’ve “forgotten” and other great and wonderful mysteries that yet remain to be revealed.


It seems likely that people of all nations and cultures have dreamt of some sort of a life after earth. While our views of heaven may differ, typically we all view heaven as a place of great happiness, satisfaction, and reward. And while most of us might tend to consider heaven as some unknown and distant land, the Bible consistently refers to heaven as our true home, our “native land,” the place where we belong and were meant to be.


Furthermore, unless we are raptured, we all share a 100% mortality rate. We ought to be prepared! Some of us will have advance notice of the event with disease or other failing condition announcing the impending event. For many others, the moment we step from this life on earth to the next step in our eternal realm, will come quite suddenly and unexpectedly. It seems only prudent that we should think about and plan for that time and place when we will truly be home. I’m certainly not proposing that heaven is everyone’s eternal reward. God is quite clear in distinguishing between those who love and obey him and thus inherit heaven, and those who prefer to “have it my way” and either ignore or actively rebel against God’s plans, who will choose themselves a devastating place for all eternity. (The thought of death should be quite fearful for them but that’s a subject for other writings.) But for now, our focus is on heaven, the true home for those who love God and believe in his Son Jesus.


I’m reading Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven these days and look forward to sharing my reflections on his extensive studies with you. More so, I hope these writings will stimulate your own appetite to think and live in an increasingly heavenly minded way. But how should we approach the subject of heaven, this real place with houses and rooms where we will be “at home with the Lord?” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7, John 14:2)


To me, it makes sense that we hold up whatever preconceived notions and fanciful thoughts we have about heaven against what the scripture says. After all, isn’t this the approach you take in your search for truth in any situation? If you believe, as do I, that the Bible is God’s true and infallible word, then it only makes sense to examine what God has to say about heaven and to let his thoughts guide us in our thinking about and preparing for our eternal home.


I say this because it is quite easy to ignore heaven and simply throw ourselves into the depths of our earthly existence. In fact, chances are you have a whole list of things pulling at your attention right now that threaten to keep you from living a heavenly minded life.


Alcorn retells the story of world renowned swimmer Florence Chadwick, who in 1952 attempted to swim the 26 mile distance between Catalina Island and the California coast. Her quest was a difficult one, looking out for sharks, battling fatigue, and then finally a thick fog that set in, preventing her from seeing the shore ahead of her. Exhausted and frustrated, she gave up and asked to be brought into a nearby guide boat. To her dismay, she discovered she was only a mile from the shore. She said had she known how close she was, she surely would have completed her journey successfully (which she did later that year).


What conditions bring a “thick fog” to settle around us, keeping us from seeing how very close we are to our heavenly shore? Let’s persevere and not give up. Rather, let’s set our minds “on things above,” (Colossians 3:2) and start to live our life in view of heaven’s shore. Maybe a practical way to begin, is to ask yourself about any frustration you currently face, “Does this really matter in the light of heaven?5

Confidence that perseveres


By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Spurgeon


Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English channel in both directions.  Just a year after setting the world record, she attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats that flanked her, that she didn’t think she could make it. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, unable to see the coastline due to the fog. As she sat in the boat, she found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from her destination. (Notable American women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century, 2011)


Have you ever completely lost your confidence and given up? Maybe you were quite good at something but were surpassed by someone who was even better. Maybe someone said you will never be “good enough.” Perhaps a betrayal dissolved what confidence you had in others or even God. Maybe your health took away the skills that once bolstered your confidence. Or a grievous loss has devastated all your hope and tempted you to give up your faith.


Such times lead us into such a deep darkness we think no light could penetrate our grief. The book of Hebrews speaks to such a time when we are tempted to turn back on our faith and return to the hopeless ways of the world. Every time we forget God’s faithfulness, we need to “REMEMBER when you received the light that allowed you to endure suffering with hope. Don’t throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:32-35)


When there is no readily apparently evidence for hope or confidence, we are called to persevere a little longer in God’s will, to reach the prize. Why? Because Christ is coming. Yes, it may seem like forever, but He is coming soon (v 36-37).


Two months after her failed California swim, Chadwick tried again. This time was different. The same thick fog set in, but she made it because she said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam. She persevered and didn’t shrink back because she kept her mind’s eye on the shore.

That is the message for you and me today. Even in our darkest hours, don’t shrink back.  Live by faith, not by sight.   For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay… “My righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:36-39)

Don’t shrink back. Watching for the light that pierces your darkness helps you to persevere. You are nearer to the heavenly shore than you realize.

Courage Perseveres

Have I not commanded you? be strong and courageous. do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9


In his book, Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado tells the story of Florence Chadwick’s 1952 attempt to swim the cold waters between Catalina Island and the California shore. Battling fog, choppy seas, and muscle cramps, she ended her challenge swim before reaching her goal despite her mother’s encouragement from the boat to continue on. Minutes after she got into the boat the fog lifted and they discovered they were only a half mile from shore. “All I could see was the fog,” she explained at a news conference. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

There have been a number of times during the Leukemia treatments that I felt I was swimming against the currents, seeing very little ahead of my present situation. Fog is a darkness that hides things. Who would have known during the darkest moments of this last week, that the sight of recovery and discharge was only days away? In such trials, we learn that faith carries us because it perseveres. In short, faith doesn’t lie around; faith works!

What ‘shore’ are you reaching for right now? If the fog of life is hiding that shore from your eyes, ask God to shine His light to show you the path to your goal. He sent Jesus for this very reason.

Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:13–14