3 You can't find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm. (Proverbs 12:3)
In the swamp are many obstacles that impact our ability to be on the footing that allows for solid growth. This morning, I'd like to look at just a couple of common obstacles found in a swamp and link them to some possible "spiritual" applications to our daily walk.
A swamp is made up of water, reeds, muddy bogs, and lots of pesky critters. The water of the swamp is not known for its clarity or purity. In fact, it is known for the murkiness. Within the murky waters are all kinds of "critters" that science has come to term as "leeches". These little wiggly creatures serve a purpose - to suck the very life out of that which they attach to! The swamp is full of those things that exist to suck life from those who wander into the murky waters - all too often unaware of what is just below the surface. Those leeching critters are upon us faster than we know and are already hard at work long before we realize their attachment. It is important to note that we cannot be continuously immersed in the murky waters and not be affected by what is contained in their murkiness. We cannot expect to live pure lives (righteous lives) if we continually surround ourselves with the murkiness of sinful relationships, sinful practices, etc.
Within the waters of the swamp are all kinds of outgrowths - reeds that sway gently in the winds and provide shelter for birds looking to nest their young. Although they form a welcoming shelter to some - providing a temporary place of refuge - they also have an ominous side to their existence. The reeds of a swamp can make progress difficult, preventing one traveling the swamp from getting through their masses, or hiding terrorizing swamp creatures within their gently moving leaves. They look good, but hold some pretty terrible consequences. They can have an entangling effect for some who enter, making them easy prey. They blow in the wind, but they are sharp on the edges - one wrong move and you can realize a sharp gash that produces much pain. If we get entangled in them, movement may be limited, responses dulled and the opportunity for our endangerment increased.
The muddy bottom of the swamp is the most telling feature of the swamp. It is filled with all manner of silt, fallen trees, rocks, uncertain drop offs, and bottom-crawling beasts that are just waiting for their prey. Muddy footing provides no soundness for your movement - it is easy to get "stuck" in place where the footing is not sure. Silt gets easily stirred up with any kind of movement, making the already murky waters of the swamp even murkier. Vision becomes impossible. Tree limbs that have fallen into the recesses of the swamp act as hidden obstacles, just waiting to trip up the one who is unaware of their presence. Uncertain depths and unexplored recesses make and movement risky at best.
The writer of Proverbs reminds us that we cannot find firm footing in a swamp - in other words, we cannot expect to live in the midst of compromising stuff and not be affected by it. David wrote in one of the first Psalms that God leads us by still waters - refreshing us there. Waters that are not murky, not riddled with things that entangle and trip us up. Waters that refresh us instead of sucking the life from us. What waters do you find yourself navigating today? If they are a little murky, you might ask if you have drifted into some swamp land! Remember, Satan is a great con artist. He is like the one who promises to sell us beach front property in the Everglades!