I use to teach swim lessons when I was in high school. I was a life guard at our communities pool and part of the job was to offer swim lessons to young kids. To swim you have to get into the water, all the way in. You have to release your fear of the water, jump in and learn to swim. Some of that hardest aspects of teaching a 4 year old to swim is to get them in the water, without any life saving devises. No floaties. No life jacket. Just jumping in and trusting me, the swim teacher, that they won’t drown. Parents usually would decide at that moment to head up to the counter where they couldn’t watch because their child would cry and cry. But after a while they would calm down. I would reassure them that it would be alright and that they were safe. Soon, after a couple weeks of lessons and getting use to being all in the water, they would be swimming.
Christ asks us to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow him. The word deny used here refers to some legal matters. It means to renounce a relationship with someone or a claim on property. We are to deny ourselves, to leave ourselves being, to take up the cross and follow Jesus. That means we have to get all in. We cannot sit on the side of the pool with our feet in the water and think we are swimming. If we are to be true disciples, then we need to hop in the water, get our whole head wet and trust that the savior who calls us will be in the water with us. It starts off scarier than hell but many how wonderful it is to learn to swim!