I now see the great analogy between this life-saving task, and my current life.
Most days feel like I am treading water while holding a brick over my head. If I stop for even a second, I'll be forced to start over, which isn't an option, so I hold my brick as high as I can all the while kicking my legs frantically. Many times though, God gives me a moment of rest. Even though I'm still treading, it feels like I've grabbed a hold of the wall. It comes in the form of simultaneous naps, a good cup of coffee, a smile or laugh from a little one, or a sweet unexpected kiss. Sometimes I simply forget I'm treading because I get into a nice groove and proudly feel like I could tread all day long. My arms are ripped and my legs become stronger, so it doesn't hurt that much. It looks crazy to on-lookers, but I become immune to the madness. Still, other times I drop the brick with sudden impatience, selfishness, or exhaustion. I begin to see the ridiculousness of my treading and forget that those bricks are my babies. (Thankfully I haven't actually dropped my baby.... yet). It is then that I see the real reason Jesus suffered. We all suffer minor injuries on a semi-regular basis, but nothing compared to what He experienced. When we are sad, suffering, or sick of treading water, we long for a better reality.
That is when I miss those, like my best friend, who have gone on to a place without any suffering or treading the most. We ache to be with loved ones because we can't imagine when we will ever see them again. Yet that day could very well be tomorrow. Seriously. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. When I recognize the reality of our fleeting time on Earth, I also see the brevity of my treading. We do not tread forever; we are not ill forever; we do not miss forever. It is the uncertainty of the finish line that makes us hurt with exhaustion. Just as it was with Levi's condition at birth (and still is in some ways today), the uncertainty is always the scariest part. But once you make your peace with the unknown because you know where your end result exists, you can rest in knowing the finish line is much closer than we think. It's a glorious finish line when you know who brought you here and the purpose of all your treading, and it certainly makes the treading water/brick-holding that much easier. When God gives you that peace and strength, others begin to wonder how you make it look so easy.