When I was four, my family lived near the Atlantic Ocean. "Close enough to enjoy the water," my mother used to say, "but far enough that we don't have sand in the house."
One afternoon my father brought me to the beach to escape the blistering summer heat of our apartment. I still remember splashing in the water, squealing as the gentle waves surged and ebbed around me.
I suppose he was only a short distance away when he turned his back for a moment. But during that moment, a wave knocked me off balance and plunged my face beneath the water. Frantic, I fought to regain my footing as each successive swell threw me under again and again. Panic grew into terror as the current swept me deeper beneath the waves.
Then, from nowhere, strong arms suddenly pulled me free. Within moments, I found myself safely on the warm sand. The lifeguard had come to my rescue.
"Hey! What are you doing?" My father ran toward us, shouting at the man who saved me. "I was watching him. He was okay." Then he looked at me. "You were okay, weren't you?"
I remember it was more a command than a question. Embarrassed and confused, what could I say? I stared at my feet and whispered, "Uh-huh."
Vindicated, my father led me back to our beach blanket. I didn't feel like going into the water anymore that day.
Years passed, and I discovered different waters in which to revel. Swept along by swells of ideas and temptations, I drifted from one immoral or rebellious pleasure to another. Life ebbed and flowed gently around me.
Then a wave knocked me off balance.
I fought to regain my footing, but each attempt met powerful and successive waves that pulled me deeper toward sin, desperation, and finally, despondency. I knew intuitively that my future promised little more than ever-increasing bondage to those very things I once thought gave me freedom. I knew I could no more stop doing what I knew to be wrong than I could prevent the ocean's currents. But oh, how I longed for forgiveness, cleansing – and rescue. In despair, I cried out to the One I had for so long ignored and begged Him to deliver me from myself.
I still remember His rescue. The Holy Spirit led me to friends who told me of God’s promise of salvation and the power to change direction. All I needed to do was ask God for mercy.
Suddenly, from nowhere, strong arms pulled me free from sin's grip. Overwhelming guilt and fear gave way to assurance and peace. I’d been rescued. Lifted onto the Rock. Oh, how glorious was the sense of freedom, to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
But within days, friends and family rushed to my side. "You were okay, weren't you? You weren't really in trouble . . . .”
What could I say? What would I say?
Pressure from family or friends often prevent a child from choosing right over wrong. But how should adults react in the face of truth? Despite my self-assured façade, I desperately needed help, and the Lord Jesus so graciously reached down to rescue me.
What could I say? The choice could not have been clearer. It was time to put away childish things. It was time to shoulder my responsibility and admit that the gospel is the power of God to rescue from sin’s bondage everyone who turns to Christ (Romans 1:16).
What will you do today, as 2021 draws rapidly to a close? What will you say to Christ who offers you not only forgiveness, but also a changed life?
If you have already sought and found His forgiveness, please, do not cease to continue seeking Him. Repentance, confession, and turning from sins is never a ‘one-time’ event.
And if you have never sought Him – I hope you will do it now, even as you finish this essay. It was Jesus who said: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)