The Iron Did Swim

Timothy’s father read him the story about one of Elisha’s students who was chopping down a tree along the Jordan River, found in 2nd Kings Chapter 6, in which the axe head came loose, landing in the river. He was very distraught, especially since he had borrowed the axe, which was practically impossible for him to replace. Elisha, a prophet of God who walked in the ways of the Lord, told his student to point to where the axe head went into the river. Elisha threw a stick to the exact spot. Immediately, the iron axe head came to the surface as if it was swimming on the water; all the man had to do was reach out and take hold of it.

Timothy looked at his father wide-eyed. “The iron axe really did swim, daddy?” He asked. Yes, son, it really did happen. “The Iron Did Swim.” I have used that term ever since the time I read from a Charles Spurgeon devotional in which Mr. Spurgeon wrote about the miraculous ways God provided for some faithful believers in Christ. In each one of the stories he wrote about, Mr. Spurgeon said, “The Iron Did Swim.”

“Do you know any ‘The Iron Did Swim’ stories, daddy? I’d really like to hear them.” Yes, son, I do! I read a story in a book titled “What Is The Spiritual Life” by Moses C. Onwubiko that he experienced during a trip to Pakistan.  A Christian family in Pakistan, where Christians are often persecuted, were in what is called “indenture servitude,” which is basically like being a slave until they could pay the debt that was levied against them. They had to work long hours in a brick factory in very poor conditions. Their situation looked hopeless. Some fellow Christian believers in Christ, themselves living in poverty, aware of the family’s plight, pooled together what little they had until one day, “The Iron Did Swim” for that Christian family. They were freed from their bondage, which shows us how when members of the body of Christ work together in harmony and obedience to the Lord, ”The Iron Will Swim.” 

Another “The Iron Did Swim” story is one the pastor told one Sunday. A boy just a little older than you, named Glen, lost the toes and most of one foot, as well as having both of his legs horribly burnt in an explosion that tragically also took the life of his nine-year-old brother.  Someone had mistakenly put gasoline in the kerosene can used to fill the heating stove in the school they attended.  After a long stay in the hospital, during which time amputation of Glen’s legs was considered, his family faithfully changed his bandages and massaged his legs day after day for a very long time. Glen’s favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31. “Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall walk and not faint.”  He prayed in faith, believing that the day would come when he would be able to walk again.  After two years of trying to stand while coping with the pain, he finally stood for the first time.  Even though it was only for a few seconds, his family was thrilled that their prayers were being answered.

Glen surprised all the skeptics that felt he would never walk again.  And guess what?  Timothy smiled as he looked at his father and said, “The Iron Did Swim!”  Yes, it sure did, his father said.  Glen not only learned to walk again, he learned to run.  As remarkable and unbelievable as it seems, he set the United States high school record for the mile with a time of 4:28:6 and set national records in college at the University of Kansas.  He was named the top amateur athlete in the U.S., set the world record for the mile run at 4:06.08 and earned a silver medal in the Olympics, missing the Gold by only tenths of a second, always giving thanks to the Lord for every accomplishment. And when his running career was over, Glen Cunningham who had become known in the press as the “Iron Man,” along with his wife, built a home for boys.  During their lifetime, they helped over 10,000 boys that had been orphaned, or were in trouble with the law, feel genuine love, giving them a brighter future.  Like it says in Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord…”  It might be in this life or the life hereafter, but be assured when God makes a promise, “The Iron Will Swim.”

Timothy, with a longing look in his eyes, asked, “I’ve heard you and mom say ‘The Iron Did Swim’ when you were talking to people about me. Why do you say that, daddy?” His father looked to the Lord for wisdom in how to tell his son, knowing full well that if he didn’t hear it from him, he would very likely hear it from someone else now that he was almost seven. When he finished telling Timothy that in addition to complications with his mother’s pregnancy, which the doctors convinced her could cost her life, they also felt there was a great chance you would be a special needs baby, not able to function in life like most children, which would be a tremendous physical, mental, and financial burden on the family. They said, under the circumstances, the doctors felt it was best if they ended the pregnancy. Timothy looked at his father with an alarmed look and then said, “end the pregnancy? Is that what they mean when they say abort a baby?” Yes, son, that is what they mean. “Daddy, you mean they wanted to kill me.” With tears running down his checks, his father was not able to respond. After a long pause, he said, Timothy, there wasn’t any way in the world we were going to let that happen. Your mother said even if it cost her own life, she was not going to let anyone harm her baby. Every day you were in her belly, she sang to you. She said when she stopped singing, she could feel you kicking as if to say, please don’t stop, mommy. I love to hear you sing to me.

The Lord heard our prayers, as we immediately began to look for another doctor. The moment we walked into the new doctor’s office, and saw the Psalm 139:16 plaque on his office wall, which read, “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unformed. And in your book, they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Your mother said she actually felt you jumping for joy in her belly. At that very moment, we both had “The Iron Will Swim” peace in our hearts. And every day we look at you, we say, “The Iron Did Swim,” giving thanks to the Lord for all His love and grace. 

When Jesus said what you do unto the least of these, you do unto me, we can be assured that the wonderful people at organizations like National Right to Life, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, their volunteers, all their financial donors, and everyone and every organization that supports the right to life, God will reward them with eternal rewards beyond what we can imagine for helping to make possible the gift of life for countless babies and their mothers. Timothy smiled as he said, “and for fathers like you, too!”

Yes, son, it is understandable why seven thousand people would come to hear Charles Spurgeon preach every Sunday, longing to hear every word this man of God had to say. He believed wholeheartedly that “The Iron Did Swim” and the God of the Prophets like Jeremiah, Elisha, and Elijah still lives! As the shadows of the events Jesus said would happen in the last days before He comes lengthen across our land, for those that have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, with peace in our hearts, we can rest comfortably knowing that just like when God demonstrated His power and majesty in 2nd Kings, where “The Iron Did Swim,” when Jesus makes a promise He will be coming again for his own, you can count on the fact, “The Iron Will Swim.”

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