Falling Short

September 19, 2023

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 NIV

Pablo Fernández Álvarez of Madrid is an amazing record-setting swimmer. On July 11, 2021, he attempted to swim the greatest distance in the ocean during a 24-hour period in the Gulf Stream. He swam for over 3 hours and had already covered 27 km off the east coast of Florida when the seas got very rough and he had to abort as night fell for safety reasons. He regrouped and decided to stay in Florida waiting for the next optimal swim window.

At 10 a.m. on July 19, off the shore of Fort Lauderdale, he set off with his team. The conditions were nearly ideal for record-setting purposes as the winds were blowing steadily between 10-15 knots and the ocean waves stayed in the 1-3-foot range. The water temperature hovered between 28.8°C and 30°C. That day he set an amazing record—the longest distance covered in an ocean swim. He finally finished at 12:36 p.m. on July 20. He covered 250 km (155.34 miles) in 26 hours, 36 minutes, and 18 seconds—without fins or hand paddles. Amazing. Almost unimaginable.

But as incredible as that is, it is still a far cry from swimming across the entire ocean. The Atlantic Ocean from the tip of Florida to the tip of the continent of Africa is about 3,000 miles. Suppose we had a contest to find a strong enough swimmer to navigate that distance. You would beat me for sure. I can barely keep my head above water to cross my backyard pool. I would need a quick rescue. Your high school swim team star would make it much further, but eventually he or she would fail and be desperate for a rescue. Our Olympians would make impressive progress, but one by one they would go under the waves. Pablo Alvarez on his best swim made it 155-plus miles, but this challenge would be too massive even for him. Eventually his muscled arms would give out, and without a rescue, Pablo, too, would disappear into the dark water. No one could make it. The task is simply too overwhelming. All would fall short.

That’s our situation with making it to heaven. Heaven is for forgiven people, people whose debt of sin is paid. Not a single one of us is up for the challenge. Not your godly grandmother, not your pastor, not Mother Teresa, not even Mary, the mother of Jesus. Every one of us has a sin debt too big. We can never be good enough. The gap between us and a holy God is simply too big. Our best efforts can never make it. We need a rescue.

That’s what Jesus Christ provided for us through His sacrificial death and resurrection. His power over sin and death provides our rescue when we put our faith in Him. When we believe, when we “get into the boat,” he saves us. Our falling short is no longer an issue because He makes up the difference.

  • Spend some time thanking Jesus for your rescue.