Battling the Rip Tide

“Are you ready to go?” you ask your roommates. You hear them say “Go ahead, we’ll be right there.” You take a step onto the hard, wooden floor outside of your hut-styled bungalow. You hear a howler monkey in the tree just above you, their screech like nails on a chalkboard. You start off on the path to the beach; you can smell the fresh scent of the palm trees surrounding you. You wave to your friend lounging in the kidney shaped pool; at seven a.m., you wonder what she’s doing in the pool. As if reading your thoughts, your roommate says, “She’s going to be safer in the pool than we are in the ocean.” Another roommate pipes in, “At least she has a lifeguard!” You realize your friend is right; no lifeguards would be at the beach this early in the morning. You think about her statement for a minute, and brush it off quickly, because the water was fine yesterday. “Yesterday there was a life guard” your conscience keeps telling you.

You forget it when you friend starts to run toward the beach. You taste the ocean breeze; you feel the cold sand between your toes. Realizing it is a haven for sand fleas, you run faster, leaving only your footprints behind. The water’s edge, like the edge of a canyon, is tempting you closer. You take a small step into the raging beast, and you can already tell this won’t be fun. The green, scratchy seaweed feels like sandpaper against your legs, and the sea is colder than the night before. Your friends are just ahead of you; and you feel the wet, squishy sand, between your toes. You duck down so a wave will wash through your hair; your friends are doing the same. You look to your right, your friends are about five feet away, but you don’t think much of it. You keep looking over at your friends, and fail to realize how far away they’re getting. You look back to the shore, and notice that all but one of your friends are already back on the shore, and you’re a lot farther out than you planned.

You turn around to go back because it’s not safe anymore; the cooing newborn has turned into a screaming toddler. You take a step, and go under the formidable waves. Now you start to panic, nothings there! You try and take a step again, and realize you are in a rip tide! “Don’t panic, don’t panic.” You coax yourself; even though it would be easier to find a penguin in Hawaii. You remember reading a book that said, “If you are ever caught in a rip tide, swim parallel to the beach.” You start to swim parallel to the beach and realize that it is to no avail. Your friend yells out to you, “Come back over here!” Exasperated, you look at her across the raging waves, and start screaming like a banshee. Of course, she can’t hear you over the roar of the waves. You can feel the salt stinging your eyes and nose. You cannot get back without someone’s help. You are treading the freezing cold water, and wishing you would’ve swam in the safe, lifeguarded pool. You keep drifting farther and farther from the shore, which is now a palace, fit for the finest of kings. You can see the gorgeous palm trees, the weather-worn driftwood, and even the road back to your bungalow.

Your friend makes her way over to you; you feel her cold, wet hand, much more like a prune after this long, torturous affair. Then, she starts to panic. Now both of you are screaming louder than the howler monkey, but your friends on the shore are too busy talking to hear you. Your arms give out like a limp noodle, but you still keep trying to make your way through the waves. The waves, as far as you’re concerned, are playing catch with you as the ball. You get about a foot towards the shore, when the rip tide pulls you back into the cruel waves, like a yo-yo on a string.

You start giving your farewell address to your friend, when you get an idea. Albert Einstein would’ve been proud of you. You could use your soaked t-shirt to propel you back to the shore. It works! Your t-shirt then becomes the only thing between you and the ghastly waves. Your t-shirt is using the once cruel waves to soar you back to the shore. When your friends finally take notice of you, they ask, “What took you so long? You feel the sudden urge to throw them into the rip tide, and then you would ask them “What took so long?” You start back the gravel path back to your hut. You decide to go swimming in the pool, only waist deep, just to be safe. The pool water is crisp and cool, yet warm. You just sit there for a while, and then join in with your friends.

After you get out of the pool, take a shower, and dry off, you decide to go and swing on the hammock. You feel the soft fabric against your skin, and hear the rain’s music against the roof. You hear your friends talking in the background, and you can see them sitting in the bungalow. Your friends just didn’t enjoy the rain as much as you; you loved the fresh, clean smell rain made when it dove into earth’s crust; and the feel of the raindrops on your skin. It sounded like a little girl hitting a xylophone ever so softly. You think perhaps you will read a book, but then decide to reflect on the day.

You think back to the beach, and how close you came to death, you are so relieved you decided it was time to go back when you did. What if you had kept going deeper and deeper? You realize you might be at the bottom of the ocean if you hadn’t felt the urge to go back. You know how a person can start wading into sin, and then go a little deeper, and deeper, until the sin swallows them. When they try to get back to God, it gets harder and harder because their sin just pulls them away. Usually, when someone realizes how deep they are in sin, it is too late to turn back. And that’s why Jesus came down to earth, and put himself into our sin, so that he could help us get out of it, even if it meant sacrificing His safety. You remember that He is the only way back to the Father, the only way out of our sin; without Him, we would still be battling the rip tide.

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