Drowning In The Waters?

I have this memory.
Do you know the kind?  It’s the kind that embeds those moments in your life, those moments of great fear or panic, and they etch themselves so deeply into the recesses of your brain that you will never forget?

Do you have memories like this?
I’m sure you do.

My memory?
I am a small boy, in a swimming pool at Gene Epply camp.
I don’t remember hardly anything from that time…but I remember that pool.
I remember how I stepped off of the edge and into reflective waters.  Perhaps it was a hot day, I do not recall, but I do recall my little legs straining to touch the bottom and just finding more water.  Panic set in.  The sounds of the laughing and playing children around me faded in and out as I struggled to stay afloat while my vision and my ears were precariously between the two plains – Water and air.

I can only imagine what my face looked like in those brief but terrifying moments.  Others might have seen a small toe-headed boy with wild panicked eyes flailing around in aqua blue waters.  I knew, without help, I would drown.  I hadn’t learned to swim yet, and I was going under.

All of this probably lasted only mere seconds, but to a drowning boy who was taking water into his lungs like it was air, this moment seemed to take an eternity!  Finally, large hands grabbed me with great strength, and I was hoisted out of the depths of those waters and into safety once again.

It’s funny what you remember when you are young.  Those odd things that stand the test of time and come calling into our recollection from time to time.  Memories are a funny thing.  They flutter about, and come to life when certain scents waft in the air, or through certain songs…or in this instance, when I visit a swimming pool.

That moment still lingers in me even after all of these years.
I believe it was my father that pulled me out of those waters – me, a little terrified boy who had yet to learn to swim.

I think there is a very real spiritual parallel here to grasp.
Many people in our communities are struggling to stay afloat in life.
Some have waded out too far from the safety of the shores.
Some have terrified looks in their eyes as they suddenly realize their predicaments.
Others have simply given up trying to stay afloat and are about to go under for the last time.

My son became a lifeguard last summer.
His time as a lifeguard taught him to remain vigilant during his shift at the waters edge.
Every now and then he and the rest of the lifeguards had to come to someone’s rescue and pull them back to safety.  The job of a lifeguard seems glamorous with awesome opportunities for tanning, but in reality it is a job of ever watchfulness.

In the same way, a follower of Christ ought to be a lifeguard who is deeply committed to watchfulness.  The water’s edge, the place of safety is the Church…where firm ground and restored hope surrounds all that are rescued.  The problem I see in the Church today is that there are far too few lifeguards willing to risk it all and venture into the depths of the waters when they see hapless people drowning in its depths.  There are far too many comfortable lifeguards who are more preoccupied with casting judgments like “it serves them right” or “they are just getting what they deserve!”

I am glad Jesus didn’t say that about us!
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…it doesn’t say all (except for ________(insert our names here), no ALL…everyone of us have fallen short.  (Romans 3:23)  Instead it says, “for while we were sinners (while we were drowning in the depths…while we were going under for the last time) Jesus died for us.  (Romans 5:8)

I still have that memory forever etched in my mind.
The day I almost drowned, was also the day I was rescued.

Perhaps, dear Church, we should get back to lifeguarding, because there are still so many falling below those dangerous waters…and who will help them?  Who will come to their rescue?  We are called out

The Patron Saint of Last Ditch Efforts


She fought her way through the throngs of people.  Every inch was a battle, but her objective was in sight.  “If only I can reach him”, she thought, “maybe I can be healed.”  Still more people seemed to teem from neighboring dwellings as curiosity got the better of them and they had to see what this crowd was doing.  As Jesus continued to walk, so the crowd of people following Him grew as well, but she was determined to reach Him.  Finally after pushing past another person, she found herself directly behind him.  This was it.  This was her moment.  If she didn’t do it now her chance would be gone and so would the possibility of being healed.  She had heard of his miracles, that he could heal.  The woman had visited numerous “healers” yet none of them could help her.  She had all but given up any hope of complete restoration of her health, until she heard Jesus was coming.  Now, directly behind the healer, she reached out to touch him.  In her mind she had already believed that if he could heal her all she would have to do is touch him.  So with arms extended and fingertips stretching outward, she touches him.  What happens next not only confirms her belief, but ignites hope again within her heart and mind.  A power surge unlike any other is felt throughout her body.  What began as a simple touch of her fingertips sends a pulse of energy to her elbow, her shoulder, her hips, her knees and even her feet.  

Wide-eye and surprised Jesus suddenly stopped walking and turned to the crowd.  “Who touched my clothes?”  He asked.  Some of the crowd mumbled things like “we all touched you”, “I just bumped into you”, and “perhaps it was me”…but that wasn’t what Jesus meant.  He had felt power leave His body, and He looked for the one who had intentionally touched Him.  The woman who had suddenly been healed by the simple touch of his clothing knew instantly that Jesus was looking for her.  In just mere seconds she had a decision to make, she could simply disappear back into the crowd and go home, or she could admit to Jesus that it had been she who had touched Him.  She didn’t hesitate, but came forward and fell at His feet.  Perhaps she was afraid He would be angry that she hadn’t asked Him to heal her.  Perhaps she thought He might take His healing from her.  But she knelt anyway and admitted to Jesus that she had touched him in the hopes of being healed.  


Jesus’ response to her wasn’t anger or disappointment.  He looked down upon her with love and compassion and said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  God in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)  Her last ditch effort to find healing had paid off.  She had been desperate and had suffered greatly over the years from this malady, and now she was completely healed and free from disease and suffering.  

Isn’t that what Jesus does for all of us?  We suffer from so many issues in this life.  Some suffer from actual physical ailments and diseases, while others suffer from spiritual diseases that pillages and ravages the heart and mind.  Yet Jesus comes to all, and though perhaps we have tried everything else without success, Jesus is there before us.  Perhaps it’s time.  Perhaps it’s your last ditch effort to find healing that no one else can provide you with.  If only you would reach out and touch Him and find that He has the power to save ultimately and completely!  

This is the kind of “last ditch effort” that has an eternal outcome.  Belief isn’t easy, yet this woman so long ago, who was clinging to her last hope reached out to a Savior who healed permanently.  Will you reach out to Him today?  Are you willing to place your faith in His mighty power?  He wants us to all believe in Him.  He loves us so deeply and stands ready to heal and save.  

The Waters of Faith and Fear – Find Jesus there!



I’ve been looking at the painting.  I’m mesmerized by it.  Have you ever studied a painting?  Have you looked closely at the details?  The brush strokes?  The unspoken drama captured in a mere moment?  Look at the waves, how they list back and forth, how they swell to a crescendo and fall back down again.  It’s almost as if you can watch them in their lunar symphonic dance.  As I look into this painting I see so much of me.  I see evidence of my doubt, evidence of my fears and evidence of my lack of strength.  I see me drowning there, not just Peter.  I see what could happen if I fall down into the depths of this flowing tide.  The water filling up my lungs.  The panicked shock becoming reality.  My feeble life flashing before my eyes.  I can imagine it…can you?

 As I look at this painting, a story we’ve all heard before while sitting in those stiff backed, wood-oil scented pews that creak when you shift positions…the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus.  We’ve heard the details of this story.  How Peter saw Jesus walking towards them and cried out to Him, “Lord if it is really you call me to come out there with you…and Jesus said ‘Come'” (Matthew 14:22-33).   So Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking towards Jesus on the water.  You see we often stop here in this story and think to ourselves “wait for the ‘but'” and we call this Peter’s doubting moment because he looked down, because he became frightened, because he took his eyes off of Jesus.  But what we often fail to look at within this story and it’s evident in this painting is that Peter got out of the boat…but where were the rest of the disciples?  Where did they remain?  In the boat.  If we look real closely they are way off in the foreground standing in the boat safe and sound but did they believe as Peter had?  Did they climb out of the boat with him?  No.  

Another thing that really hits home to me that is portrayed in this painting is the juxtaposition of his friends and peers in the boat as opposed to where Peter is located.  No, not just because of their doubt but because of their distance.  When Peter needed his friends and his peers the most they were too far away to help him.  He was well out of their reach to throw any kind of life saving device towards his sinking soul.  As I stare into this painting I begin to understand something that I didn’t before.  Perhaps I knew it to be true, but only in the back of my mind.  Here’s the truth:  Our friends, comrades in arms, loved ones and peers cannot save us all of the time.  There are times when faith takes us out further than perhaps others are willing or called to go.  Faith takes us into deeper waters where we have to find out for ourselves that not only is our strength not enough but our faith must be increased so that Jesus can save us.  It’s not about being better than our friends or our loved ones, it’s not about being more holy but God calls each of us to different waters.  So when we step out of our boats as Peter did we will find ourselves at times to be all alone on those waters without the support of other believers near us.  

Staring again at this painting I am struck by how the painter illustrates the expression that Jesus has on his face.  If someone lets you down what might your expression be? One of disappointment?  One of anger?  One of dismay?  To me, Jesus doesn’t seem to have any of these expressions on His face.  Instead He appears concerned, lovely so as He stoops down to pluck Peter from the depths.  Notice too that Jesus doesn’t grasp onto Peter’s slipper, wet fingers.  Instead He grasps Peter by the wrist.  What this says to me is that Jesus knows.  He knows that Peter can’t pull himself up out of these circumstances.  He knows that Peter’s strength have given way to doubt, shock and fear.  Jesus knows and so He pulls Peter up by his wrist and in so saying ‘My strength is enough, let me be your salvation’.  

I am Peter in the waters from time to time.  I am being choked by the lapping waters as I gasp for another breath.  I am given over to fears and doubts and I cannot save myself.  I look for my friends and for my peers but they are too far from me.  Yet Jesus is there willing and able to rescue me…again.  He grasps onto my wrist and says to me ‘My love, my strength, my courage, my grace, my hope…is enough!’  

Today I don’t know what kind of waters you’re walking on in faith, but I do know one thing Jesus is there!  Though our faith may take us out deeper than we’ve ever gone before, though we find it difficult or impossible to walk alone…Jesus is there!  Trust Him today!  Trust His strength.  Trust that He will never abandon you or be too far away to rescue you.  When you find yourself far from the saving mercies of other Christians, look up and find the One who has paid it all grasping onto your wrist and saving you through His strength and grace. 



Victory in the midst of tragedy!



Breaking News Story:

I saw the breaking news story today about the three women who had been kidnapped and held for ten years. WOW, seriously TEN YEARS! That just boggles the mind to think of the horrors they must have endured within that ten year span. I am overjoyed to hear of their rescue and freedom and mortified at the same time that within our population monsters really do exist among us.


Have you ever been to a Walmart? I’m sure you have. Have you ever looked at all of the faces of the missing people that they have posted on that bulletin board in front of the checkout area? It really is sobering to think that darkness is real in our lives. Sure we can ignore it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gone. Like a kid who pulls the blankets up over their eyes we can close our eyes to the horrors and pretend they don’t exist but unlike the monsters under the bed and in the closet these monsters are very real!

Another form of darkness in our world, similar to these horrible experiences of these women in our news story today is the plight of human trafficking in our world today. It’s kidnapping on an epic scale. It’s deplorable to even think that there is a market for humans. That one can even put a price on another human being. It’s the modern day form of slavery. One can imagine what these three women experienced when in the hands of this monster…just imagine being bought and sold a number of times on top of these horrors. I’m not trivializing what this breaking story today has detailed but knowing that there are other women out there in similar circumstances even in our own country really churns my stomach.

Freedom was available today for these kidnapped women and I am so joyful for their freedom and I pray for their healing and the help they will need for years to come. Please lift them up in your prayers today as well as those on Walmart walls around the country and for victims in the sex trafficking slave market the plagues our world still today.


Additional links to help stop human trafficking in our world:





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