It’s finally hot again and beach season is beginning. Days at the beach for a small-town country boy like me were rare, and by “rare,” I mean only a handful in the whole course of my developmental years. The few day trips that did materialize involved a multi-car caravan filled with an assortment of uncles, aunts, and cousins, and on two occasions, even my grandparents, which added a distinctive element to our little group because Grandpa was a fashion standout on the beach. He was the only guy strolling around in long pants, lace-up leather shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt buttoned all the way up to his neck. When Grandma suggested that he take off his shoes, roll up his britches and go wading in the surf, he replied, “Why would I wanna do that?” Some things about Grandpa I just never understood.
An Unexpected Blessing ~
In any case, on this particular excursion, one of my uncles decided to be uncharacteristically generous. He knew I couldn’t swim and was afraid of the surf, so he coughed up fifty cents to rent one of those rubber floats from a vendor near the lifeguard stand. He hoisted my 9-year-old body face down on the raft, pulled me out just past the breakers, and said, “Now you can float around out here all you want,” which I happily proceeded to do.
I was thoroughly enjoying life aboard my little rubber ark, splashing around in the swells, looking at the swimmers that came and went near me, and wishing I could swim. Eventually, I decided it was time to check in, so I lifted my head up to look for the folks in our party. The first realization to sink in was that I was farther out than I should be. Then I began to notice other things. None of my family was anywhere to be seen, and the lifeguard stand and raft rental place were gone. Pleasure deteriorated into panic, and all the adrenalin my body could generate was directed toward flailing around with my hands trying to get back to shore. While I had been having fun, there was movement going on I didn’t know about, and I was being carried to places I never intended to go.
The good news is that my family eventually found me, and there was no lasting damage. Mom never did those awful things she threatened to do to my uncle for not watching me — and thus, avoided jail time. And today, my little beach adventure serves as a handy transition to a serious admonition from God about the danger of currents and drifting: Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. Hebrews 2:1 (NKJV)
Vital Questions ~
Here’s the first obvious point. Life is not stagnant. Like a subtle ocean current, time is pulling us along and like it or not, we’re engaged in a kind of “drifting.” Whether we feel it, see it, love it, hate it, or bother to acknowledge its presence, the landscape of our life is changing. The question is not whether we’re all headed somewhere, but more importantly, which way are we going, how fast are we moving, what’s the ultimate destination, and what can we do about it? The Scriptural warning suggests the danger of drifting past a harbor that may be our last access to safety.
Playing around on my little raft was fun until I realized that a force I couldn’t control was at work and was pulling me away from where I wanted to be. That was a shocking revelation, but there was a positive repercussion. One serious look at the landscape was all it took to shake me out of my reverie, change my objectives, and rearrange my priorities.
A Shocking Landscape ~
A current application of that principle is unavoidable. A serious look around the moral and spiritual landscape of our nation prompts questions like . . .
- “How on earth did we get here?”
- How did exposure to every freakish sexual aberration imaginable become commonplace?
- How did we allow so many schools to abandon the free exchange of contrasting ideas and become indoctrination centers for left-wing philosophies and liberal politics?
- How did the daily slaughter of thousands of defenseless babies become a government-supported multi-billion dollar “industry”?
- When did we decide that it’s okay for repetitious, unsubstantiated allegations and demeaning innuendos and accusations to pose as news reports?
- How did people who promote socially destructive ideologies and morally repulsive lifestyles get to be revered as role models for our kids, and . . .
- Why do we applaud the tirade of hateful personal insults spewed out every night in the name of comedy?
It seems clear that we’ve drifted pretty far down the beach.
Not paying attention to the bigger picture can be costly, both individually and collectively. The current is relentless, and we can drift beyond any hope of recovery. In light of that, God offers this admonition: Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6 (NKJV)
But there’s another element in my story and another lesson worth mentioning. I wasn’t the only one drifting through the day having fun and oblivious to indications of trouble. There were lots of people around who were happily drifting along too, only they weren’t on a raft. Time and life were the currents silently carrying them. Any of them could have noticed that I was in trouble when I started flailing about, but only one did.
The Other Lesson ~
What I didn’t mention earlier is that someone saw me struggling on my little raft and pulled me in to safety. He didn’t stop the ocean current or change its direction, but he was bigger and stronger than me and able to overcome it. His strong hand turned my panic into peace and my desperation into gratitude. I have no idea what his name was, but I was glad he was paying attention to what was going on around him.
Maybe the key to being an instrument of change for ourselves, someone struggling nearby, or the direction of the culture at large, begins with lifting our heads long enough to take a serious look at the territory around us. Whether we’re the one in need of help or the one God sent of give it, the source of overcoming strength is the same.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV)
Ron’s new book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth” is available now!
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© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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