The year was 1993. I was a junior in high school and was looking for my first job when I found out about a lifeguard training program at the local YMCA. Living in Florida by the beach, lifeguarding is a great summer job to have. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work at the beach every day?
I signed up for the classes and was immediately amazed at how much was involved. I had to take a CPR and first responder first aid course that lasted all day. Next was the water training and rescue techniques courses meant to teach us how to save lives in everything from protected waters like a pool or lake to open ocean rescues. I never really appreciated how in shape you had to be until I spent hours in that YMCA pool swimming endless laps and treading water while holding a 10 pound diving brick above my head.
One of the most interesting things we learned was that when a drowning victim is struggling, you must be very careful in approaching them in the water. With arms flailing and legs kicking wildly, someone who’s drowning will do anything to keep their head above water and save themselves. They’ll do anything including grabbing ahold of the lifeguard trying to rescue them and pull them under too. Believe it or not, it’s much safer to wait for the person to go under and then move in for the rescue than it is to approach immediately and put yourself in danger.
I liken this to how Jesus attempts to save us when we’re drowning and floundering in our sin. Usually when we try to take control of the situation, we only allow God into certain areas of our lives. That sort of redemption doesn’t work because it doesn’t give God complete control. When we come to Jesus, we come to him on his terms, not ours. Even though his grace and forgiveness are gifts freely given, God has specifically laid out in his word how we are to accept those gifts. Jesus can only come in to save us when we give up the struggle and hand the fight over to him. He can only rescue us when we stop trying to be our own lifeguard and save ourselves.
Is that scary to think about? You bet it is! Complete surrender is very scary at first because we’re all conditioned at an early age to take care of ourselves and our problems. But James reminds us to, “submit ourselves to God” (James 4:7), and even Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). We will eventually get past that initial feeling of anxiety when we hand our sin problem over to God.
Following are some excellent scriptures to meditate on that deal with how God will protect us and be our lifeguard.
” 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34:19)
” 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
” The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:2-3)
” 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)