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  • Jeff Chacon

Keep swimming!

Have you ever gone to the beach, put your towel and stuff down on the sand, and gone out to swim and frolic in the water – only to come in and find that someone has stolen your stuff?


At least that’s what you think, at first.


Until you realize that your stuff didn’t move – you did.


It happened while you were swimming and playing in the water – only you didn’t notice – because it happened so slowly that it was imperceptible to you.


Only when you returned to the shore did you suddenly realize: “Whoa, I’ve drifted quite a bit here.”


That’s because of the “current” – the constant horizontal movement of the water caused by wind conditions.


Some currents are so strong they are known as “rip tides” and can actually pull you out to sea. Rip tides account for more than 80% of rescues performed by surf-beach lifeguards.


But while rip tides pose a more overt danger to the swimmer, sometimes a slow and steady current can pose the more subtle danger because the movement is so imperceptible.


Subtle currents and occasional rip tides… every beach has them – and so does every life – including yours.


Whether it be that slow and steady drift toward apathy, laziness, and self-centeredness – or the occasional rip tide of a major sin or calamity that rocks your world – we are all subject to the currents and rip tides of our sinful nature and the world we live in.


Interestingly, the solutions to both ocean drift and spiritual drift are also very similar:

1) don’t go to the beach alone

2) be aware of the current and keep swimming

3) call a lifeguard if necessary


Let’s explore how these solutions work spiritually…


1) Don’t go to the beach alone


I grew up surfing in San Diego, California. It was loads of fun – and sometimes got me into trouble – like when my buddies and I would surf before school and come running into first period wet-haired, disheveled and late. (I know what you’re thinking: “Jeff, had hair?” Yes. And it was “disheveled” at times – look it up.)


Anyway, we always had a basic rule: never surf alone.


Too much can go wrong: a rip tide; a big wave that knocks the air out of you with no one there to help; or just getting hit by your board because of a wave. There are just too many dangers to go surfing alone.


It’s the same thing spiritually.


Here’s a basic rule: never try to live the Christian life alone.


Too much can go wrong: the subtle drift into laziness and selfishness; the rip tide of a major sin that knocks the air out of you with no one there to help; or just getting hit by Satan in any number of ways. There are just too many dangers to try and live the Christian life alone.


Are you trying to live the Christian life alone?


This pandemic and quarantine have caused a certain amount of unavoidable isolation from the body of Christ. But that’s why it’s so imperative right now to reconnect as much as you can, reach out in whatever way is safe and effective for you, and keep up those deeply connected relationships.


Consider the strong warnings about this from the writer of Hebrews:


“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13)


“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” (Hebrews 2:1)


“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)


2) Be aware of the current and keep swimming


When most people think of surfing, they think of someone balanced on a surfboard while they ride the face of a curling wave. And that’s certainly the highlight.


But surfing involves much more than that – it involves a lot of paddling! (After many years of absence from the sport, I tried to surf a few years ago, and it wasn’t riding the wave that was a problem – it was catching it! Twenty minutes into the session my arm and shoulder muscles were so fatigued that I wondered how I was going to get back to shore!)


Any surfer will tell you that surfing involves a lot of paddling – paddling to catch waves and paddling sideways to keep from drifting away from where the waves are breaking best. The current is usually slow and constant; so, if you’re not paddling against it – you’re drifting.


It’s the same things spiritually.


Because the drift toward sin and the world is so constant, you have to keep swimming back to Jesus just to stay close to him.


I’m reminded of the animated movie, “Finding Nemo” (2003), where the loveable little blue fish with the bad memory, Dory, would face one adversity after another and simply encourage the others to “keep swimming!”


And that’s what we’ve got to do, brothers and sisters: “keep swimming!”


Peter seemed to have a similar idea in mind as he wrote his second letter to the church and essentially urged them to “keep growing!”


“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 2:5-11)


“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)


3) Call a lifeguard if necessary


Lifeguards at the beach may seem unnecessary – like overpaid body builders with a cushy job, getting tans at the beach – until you need one.


Then, suddenly, the lifeguard is absolutely essential.


According to the International Life Saving Federation, “1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year; that is more than two people per minute.”


Wow, that’s a lot of drownings.


I wonder how many Christians drown spiritually every year?


No statistics on that, but I’m sure it’s a lot.


Regular mentor or peer discipling is generally enough to keep most Christians afloat and swimming. But when you start drowning spiritually – don’t hesitate to call a lifeguard.


Here at Anchor Point, we’ve got several designated “Lifeguards” that are available to you when you need supplemental help. Don’t hesitate to call one of them.


Or you may choose to find someone you know a little better to call and ask for help. That’s great too. We have many, many wise and experienced Disciples of Jesus in our spiritual family who are willing to help someone who calls and reaches out to them.


And if you’re not sure who to reach out to, just contact me and we’ll work together to get you the help you need.


Just don’t drown. Not when so much spiritual help is all around you. Reach out and ask for help when you need it.


Summary


Subtle currents and occasional rip tides… every beach has them – and so does every life – including yours.


Interestingly, the solutions to both ocean drift and spiritual drift are also very similar:

1) don’t go to the beach alone

2) be aware of the current and keep swimming

3) call a lifeguard if necessary


The drift is real, folks.


So, don’t let yourself get swept away by the current of your sinful nature and the world.


As Peter says, “keep growing!” And as Dory says: “keep swimming!”

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