This week we are at the beach. I love the beach. Growing up a few blocks from it was so much fun. Although I’m totally a Georgia girl now, I jump at the chance to go to the beach any time I can.
Since we arrived, the double red flags have been out signaling that the Gulf is closed and not to go into the ocean. Our condo faces the ocean and I don’t know about you, but I love people watching. For hours I have watched people line the sand, most staying out of the water… but a handful here and there would venture into the water even though they knew they weren’t supposed to. Every 15-45 minutes or so I’d hear the fire patrol drive up and down the beach, sirens whooping and flashing, telling people to get out of the water.
I had just finished doing some work on the laptop and heard the sirens again. I decided to go out on the balcony and watch them clear the people out of the water. I don’t know why it’s entertaining, but I found it so. This time however, it was different. By the time I made it to the porch people were running out of the rescue trucks and within minutes a helicopter was circling. I looked and saw several people with yellow and red floats in the water. I immediately knew something was wrong and began praying. I went from finding it amusing, to quickly switching gears and praying to the Father. I felt the Holy Spirit as I began praying for those in the water, fighting the waves to rescue a life. I prayed for their strength and stamina. I prayed for their safe return with the life that got swept out. It wasn’t long before they did make it back to shore. It was hard to see what was going on, but it looked like CPR was being performed. I began praying for “life and life abundant”, feeling the compassion of the Father. The helicopter left and not long after one of the trucks moved on.
I started thinking about what had happened and it reminded me of how sneaky sin can be.
It’s so easy to think you are in control. It’s so easy to think you know better. Even though, they had been patrolling all day long, even though the double red flags were flying to clearly show “no swimming,” was allowed, people were still in the water and this one instance became very serious.
Sin can be like the ocean. You think, “I’m okay, the waves aren’t that bad.” “I just want to touch it, I just want to walk in it. I just want to go to my knees, I just want to go in a little deeper, I’m still in control”. “The waves aren’t that high, the pull isn’t that strong, I’m a good swimmer.” Before you know it though, you are sucked under, no longer in control, but at the mercy of the waves and they are very unforgiving. Did you mean for it to go that far? No, of course not. Did you mean to get hurt or hurt others? No, you didn’t.
I’ll be honest, from my window the waves didn’t look like anything too crazy.
I was actually surprised to see the double reds still flying. I myself had even thought, “They really ought to change it to single red. It’s not that crazy”. But, I’m not an expert. I don’t actually know whether it’s safe to swim or not just by looking at the waves. That’s why we have experts who know how harsh the water really is, and that’s also why we need the Bible. We don’t always know off hand what is right or wrong. God’s Word gives us guidelines to stay safe. God doesn’t say “no, don’t do that”, because He doesn’t want us to have fun. He doesn’t say “No”, because He’s mean or angry or spiteful, but just the opposite. He knows the way to “life and life abundant,” (John 10:10). He knows the way to “still waters” (Psalm23). If the Bible offers a “don’t do this”, it’s because God wants you so free to enjoy life with Him; He wants you in a place to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically free. He knows how to keep us safe. He knows the best pathways to a healthy life.
Later on we went down to the beach with the boys to play in the sand and build sand castles. After they tired of building castles, we went for a walk. As we started walking to the left, someone shouted, “Don’t go that way!” “Why’s that?” I asked. “Because of the white sheet” they answered. “The white sheet?” I was confused. Was that some new term for a RIP tide? “Someone passed away” they replied.
I wanted to run. I wanted to cry. I had no idea. I assumed the dispersal of the vehicles, meant everything was okay. I had stopped praying, I had even felt such compassion and the heart of the Father as I was praying over the situation, I really believed it was going to be okay.
Was it my fault they passed? No.
Was it the cities fault? No, they had the flags posted and even around the city there were signs.
Was it God’s fault they passed? No, He comes to give life and life abundant.
Was it the person’s fault? I’m going to say no. I’m going to say they just made one bad choice and the enemy preyed on their bad choice; “The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy,” (John 10:10).
Sin is like that. One bad choice can literally kill us. I doubt that gentlemen woke up that morning and thought “today will be the last day I am alive.”
Am I trying to put fear in you? No. But God shares His values in the Bible for a reason. When we stay within the confines of the guidelines we lead a healthy life. God’s desire is for the whole person, (physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally) to be cared for. He desires to keep us safe. But He also gives us free will. We get to choose whether we will walk within those guidelines or not. We can justify what we are doing any way we want, but if God calls it sin, or unhealthy…it is still sin and it is still unhealthy.
Culture may change what it accepts, culture may change terminology, culture may change everything. But God cannot change who He is and what sin is and what sin isn’t.
When I worked with the children in our church, a phrase we continually put before them was this, “Sin is anything we say, think or do that does not please God.” We need to love His statutes. We need to honor them above what we think and what we feel. He’s God, He knows what the right way is. We have got to let go of our own ideas, our own notions and our own feelings on a matter and ask, “what does the Bible say”? Not, “what does my Pastor say? Or my friends, coworkers, culture, teacher, etc…”
You are responsible for you. You are responsible for getting in the Word and digging up the truth. You are responsible for finding out what sin is and what it isn’t and what the best way to handle a situation is. God gave us His Word and further more, He gave us HIS SPIRIT! HOORAY! We not only have written instructions to know what to do, but if we aren’t sure we can ask the Holy Spirit what He thinks of a matter. God set us up to win!
For I delight in your commands because I love them.I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.
Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.
2 Samuel 22:31
As for God,His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Get wisdom, get understanding’ do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Let’s hide God’s word in our hearts, so that we might not sin against Him. (Psalm 119:11)
Challenge: Memorize a scripture this week. 🙂