Just a half mile away from breaking a world record, Florence Chadwick gave up. She’d swum for nearly 16 hours in frigid water, surrounded by sharks and desperately exhausted, the fog so thick she couldn’t see the support boats that trailed behind her. The following day, she told reporters “I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I know I could have made it.”
Had the fog not obscured her vision, she would at that time have become the first woman to swim the 21-mile Catalina Channel. It wasn’t the cold or the sharks, or the fatigue that caused her to quit. It was the inability to see her goal, so close before her.
I’ve been in fog so thick that driving conditions were dangerous. It was almost impossible to tell if I was even driving in the right lane, or on the road at all. I wanted to pull over, but couldn’t see if the road had a shoulder or a steep drop. All I could do was keep moving forward and hope the fog would lift before I crashed into something.
There are times in life when circumstances descend like a cloud, obscuring our vision. We’re exhausted from striving, surrounded by sharks seeking to pull us down. The cold penetrates our hearts, paralyzes our hope. If we could just see how close we are to reaching our goal, we wouldn’t be so tempted to give up.
Maybe you already have given up.
The good news is, two months after her first attempt, Chadwick swam those same frigid, shark-infested waters. The fog was just as thick, the journey equally exhausting. But this time, she did not give up.
If you feel like quitting, don’t. You don’t know how close you are to your breakthrough. And if you have given up, remember Florence Chadwick. It may be just as difficult the second time around, but it will be worth it.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)