The eighth grader, already over six feet, could dunk. He dominated every game in the summer basketball camp, and the game he had just completed was no exception. Hot and sweaty, he headed for the beach and tried to check out a canoe with a friend.
“I passed your test. Why do I have to wear this thing?” The water safety instructor in charge of the boats was barely over five foot, but she held her ground with the young camper, “I know you’ve passed the swimming test, but you still need to put this life jacket on before I let you go out.”
Reluctantly, he connected the buckles and pushed the canoe out into the lake. More than a hundred yards from shore in over twenty-five feet of water, a motor boat barely missed his canoe. The big wake didn’t miss. The canoe went over and the young basketballer was in the cool water. Instead of staying with the floating canoe until help arrived, he took off his life jacket. “I’m swimming to the beach.” He didn’t make it far.
Why was it so important that the water safety instructor had insisted that he wear that life preserver? Why is it so important for us to try and make it clear to others that Jesus is the Protector that God has provided for us? As the Apostle Paul summed up his ministry in Asia Minor to the Ephesian elders, he has a clear conscience. Why?
“Now, look, I know none of you, those whom I’ve moved among proclaiming the Kingdom, will see my face any longer. Therefore, I solemnly testify this day that I’m clean from all bloodguilt, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the entire counsel of God. “ Acts 20:25-27
We live in a culture where the liberating message is to strike out on your own and do your own thing. Throw off the restraints. Feel the exhilarating freedom of expressing yourself and take strong strokes doing it your way. For that young Jr. High ball player his way was deadly.
Seconds after he went under, good swimmers were on the spot trying to find him. They dove repeatedly, but the deep water gave only a few inches of visibility on the muddy bottom. It was over twenty minutes when one of my friends finally spotted a white heel and was able to bring the body to the surface. It was too late.
This drowning devastated the water safety instructor, but it would have been worse if she had not insisted that he wear the life jacket. His blood was not on her hands. Paul knew that Jesus was God’s life preserver and he could tell the Ephesian leaders in the church that he had done everything he could to help folk in Asia Minor to hear and understand the truth. And he didn’t stop with the Gospel. He went on to carefully teach them the entire counsel for life revealed in God’s Word.
LORD, whether it’s a stranger at the park when I’m playing with my grandkids, someone serving me in a restaurant, or a neighbor at a summer cookout, help me not to hesitate when it comes to sharing about Jesus. Help me not hesitate when it comes to warning others about the danger of throwing Jesus off.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!