The historic Leuty Lifeguard Station in Toronto’s eastern beaches
Photo by synestheticstrings on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For those of you who live near a large body of water, or who might be visiting one during the holidays, what are some important things to remember when spending a day at the beach?

Remembering to apply sunscreen is definitely important. So is bringing snacks, a blanket to lie on, and perhaps an umbrella to sit under. Maybe a toy bucket and shovel for the kids to play with in the sand.

But isn’t there something more important than all of those?

How about remembering to pay attention to the lifeguard?

If you’re visiting a public beach by an ocean or large lake, there will probably be a lifeguard station there. Lifeguards will be in place at intervals on raised platforms above the sandy shoreline. If the lifeguard tells you the undertow makes it unsafe to swim in the water, obey his or her instructions.

There will also be rules set forth on signs along the beach. To have an enjoyable and safe day at the beach, it’s important to obey those rules. Stay within the boundaries of the supervised areas. Pay close attention to the warning flags.

The rules are there to protect you.

It’s the same with God, isn’t it? He has set forth rules for us in His Word, the Bible. He wants us to stay within His boundaries in the way we behave. He wants us to obey His instructions, because they’re for our good.

His rules are there to protect us.

Photo by Martin Jakobsen on Flickr CC BY-2.0

But what if you’re at the beach and you see the sign, “No Lifeguard On Duty”? If you get into trouble in the water, no lifeguard is there to rescue you. You’re on your own. If you start sinking, you may well drown before any other help reaches you, if it ever does.

Fortunately, you’ll never see this sign with God. He’s always on duty watching and protecting us, even when we make mistakes. We can never get too far from shore that He isn’t there with us.

“If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalm 139:9-10)

No matter what our situation, God promises that He’ll never leave us:

Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

In Matthew 28:20 Jesus tells us, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Not only is God always on duty, if we get into a “storm” in our life, he can calm it either figuratively or literally, as in this next example:

Mark 4:37-41 describes a time when Jesus and his disciples were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee during a storm. Jesus was asleep, but his friends were very much awake, and were afraid for their lives:

“Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea.
‘Silence!’ He commanded, ‘Be still!’
And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.”

The disciples were amazed and wondered, “What kind of a man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!”

Best of all, God can rescue us even when the storm we’re going through is because of a problem of our own making. Maybe we’ve made mistakes or shown a lack of faith. Even then, He’s merciful when we cry out to Him.

Jesus walking on the water

Matthew 14 records another time when the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The winds were contrary, and their vessel was being buffeted by the waves. Adding to their panic, they saw a figure walking toward them on the water, whom they took to be a ghost.

But the figure was Jesus. To make certain it really was the Lord, Peter asked Jesus to bid him to come to him on the water:

“ ‘Come,’ said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ ” (Matthew 14:29-33)

Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. Even though Peter’s near-drowning came about through his fear and lack of faith, Jesus didn’t hesitate to rescue him.

The most important things to remember, whether we’re at the beach or going about our daily lives, are these:

God never goes off duty. He’ll never forsake us. He can calm the storms of our lives. If we start sinking, He can save us.

He’s the best possible guardian of our lives.

My Lifeguard walks on water.

Does yours?

© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell

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