I recently watched the wonderful Pixar flick Finding Nemo again. It is certainly one of my favorite Disney cartoons, and I hadn’t seen it for while. I was struck this time by something that had escaped my attention before. There was an underlying repetitive message in the movie of “just keep swimming”. It is Dory’s refrain throughout most of the movie, and there are a couple points when it is used to encourage other fish as well. The basic idea is no matter what you may be facing “just keep swimming” and it will be okay.
This idea of “just keep trying” is in large part the motto of the world. “When the world has got you down just keep on keeping on.” It seems when we are confronted with the unknown or our lack of control of our lives we tell ourselves and each other to just keep trying. Have you ever heard that before? Often times it can be passed off as faith. “I don’t know how this is gonna play out, but I am just going to try to do my best and trust God with the results.” Or “As long as I am faithful to keep going and not give up, God will honor that.”
It seems we are terrified to lose the ability to do something, to truly be out of control. As a result, we still insist on the fact that there is always something we can do even though we don’t know what it is. We get so vague to the point that we are satisfied to simply say: “Just try”. Try what? Everything we’ve tried hasn’t worked so far, but we don’t pay attention to that.
This appeal to our ability has been very loud as of late. During the recent election it was almost a battle cry against the hard times our country is currently facing. It was on the posters; it was chanted at the rallies: “Yes We Can! Yes We Can!” It is the human spirit, and, like Bruce Willis, it dies hard.
That is exactly what happens though when the denial is brought to an abrupt halt, our faith in our ability dies. We can keep the act going for a surprisingly long time, but it will end because life always happens. Cancer happens. Divorce happens. Addiction happens. Flat tires happen. Bankruptcy happens. Death happens. There is always something that comes up that cannot be answered with more trying. We are knocked flat, and we cannot keep swimming. We sink.
This is where we are met with real hope. The cross of Christ stands in our face and says “No You Can’t! But He can and did.”