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A Rip Tide Rescue

     Swells of ocean waves swept over me. Salt stung my throat as I involuntarily swallowed water.  Exhaustion consumed my body.  Never had I experienced the threat of drowning. But I did this day.

     It happened this summer while on vacation at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. We enjoyed perfect weather and incredibly warm water.  A couple of hurricanes swirling just off the coast created a surfer’s dream.  The huge waves also enticed many beach goers to boogie board and body surf…including my husband, Drew. 

     I watched him way out on a sand bar, riding wave after wave. I decided to join him.  It took me a long time to swim out because the on-coming waves created a formidable undercurrent. In fact, the day before red flags flew high warning all to stay out of the ocean because of that day’s powerful rip currents.

     I finally reached my husband. He began showing me how to catch the waves to get a good ride. Suddenly, just as I caught a wave, a strong current pulled me under and out. As I surfaced with what felt like lungs full of water, I began floating because I had lost any strength to swim. I yelled to my husband, “Help!  I can’t swim in!  I can’t swim back!”  By now the ocean floor had sunk way beneath my feet.  My husband yelled back, “Come on Cindy, you’ve got to swim.  The current is pulling us out.”

     “I can’t.  I can’t breathe.”  Another wave swept over me.  Again, I swallowed water.

     Before I knew it, Drew was next to me. Trained as a life guard, he grabbed me in a rescue hold.  The rushing, roaring sound of waves echoed in my ears and stirred fear in my heart. A paralyzing panic gripped me. I began to fight against Drew’s hold. I wasn’t thinking clearly.

     "Help!  Someone call a lifeguard!  I need a lifeguard.  I'm drowning."

     “I am a lifeguard,” Drew forcefully responded.  “You’re going to be OK.  I’ve got you.”

     Drew refused to let go despite my struggling with him. What a horrible moment.  Absolutely horrible.  I felt like I had no control of my life as the ocean’s power dominated me. 

     “I’ve got you.” Drew kept reassuring me. “We’re getting closer to the beach. You’re going to be OK.”  I didn’t believe him until I touched the bottom. It seemed like an eternity. The waves and current persisted. Drew never let go of me, though, even after we reached knee-deep water.

     Finally on dry sand we sat quietly together…my breathing labored, my body shaking. I silently remembered what we had heard the day before...that three people had drowned this summer in the Atlantic’s unpredictable rip tide. Yet I found myself safe.  My husband had rescued me.  Yes.  My closest and most faithful friend never left my side.

     How much more Jesus!

     It has been more than a week since the sounds, the smells, and the fear of my ocean trauma grasped my heart.  But I now have a different perspective. That’s because a few nights ago, as I was reliving what had happened that day in the Outer Banks, Jesus began painting a vivid picture in my mind and heart, bringing fresh and life-giving insight into my experience.

     His gentle voice asked, “Cindy, is your life’s daily walk ‘of’ the world or ‘in’ the world?” He reminded me that the unseen and unexpected undercurrent of sin in this earthly world cleverly entices…just as ocean undercurrents pull out and engulf the unsuspecting. 

     In the Psalms, King David addressed his sin and wisely called upon God to search him and know his heart…to test his anxious ways and get rid of any wickedness lurking in the recesses of his heart. (from Psalm 139: 23-24)

     Like David, I need to check where I’m “wading”...where I’m choosing to “swim.”  Are my daily choices and desires lifting my heart up to the heavens or pulling me down into the depths of the sea…into the depths of she'ol (Hebrew for Hell)?

     The Lord then reminded me of Drew’s strong, protective, and consistent hold while I was losing my strength. I could feel his arm around me again.  Jesus whispered, “Cindy, that is Me you feel.  I am your ultimate Rescuer and Protector.  I will never, never, leave your side.” In an instant the words of Psalm 139, verses 9 & 10, enveloped my heart and breathed new meaning into my life.

“Where can I go from Thy Spirit?...

If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

even there Thy hand will lead me, and Thy right hand will lay hold of me” (NAS).

     When the ocean’s darkness threatened and surrounded me, Jesus was right there.

     Just the same, if I choose to walk in sin’s darkness, Jesus is right there…urging me to repent, shining His forgiving light into the darkness.

“If I say,’Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night’, even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.”

(Psalm 139:11-12 NAS)

     Walking (or swimming!) as a believer in Christ Jesus allows me to claim this Biblical promise, as well as all His others. I rest assured the light of His presence will direct and protect me, every moment, everywhere.

“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with Him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 NAS)

“The path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NKJV)

“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b NKJV)

 Jesus --

My greatest friend

My rip tide rescuer!!!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Cynthia Newman

Reader Comments...
2010-10-12 15:15:51
"Powerful, Cindy! What a lovely picture of Drew filling his calling in your life to be Christ and give himself up for you! You have seen the rose in the midst of the thorns...bless you as you continue to share the things God teaches you! Love, "
        - Karen
2010-10-04 22:43:51
"Beautiful and powerful! That's what I envision when I read your article. And that's what I see in my mind's eye when I read the Psalms you referenced. Thanks for the incredible "rip tide ride.""
        - Decie
2010-10-02 23:44:43

What an awesome picture of what Jesus does/did for us. This article made me cry. I love how Drew kept a hold on you even when you fought him and kept reassuring you it would be ok. Wow. That was so prophetic. Thank you :)God has gifted you to paint pictures with your words. I love it!!"
        - Dorena

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