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Swimming Without Flags

July 30, 2011 1 comment

As a child my family took frequent trips to the beach. We spent many a summer day at Atlantic beaches in New Jersey and each spring break we went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Without a care we ran into the waves to play. There were no flags.

Later in my formative years we lived in Chicago and the beach became a distant memory.
Recently however we moved near the Gulf of Mexico and are not too far from some really nice beaches. We have made some trips to the beach to swim. There are flags.

I guess I was born before there were lawyers and lawsuits and liability. We did things that people today think are risky enough to warn us that maybe we should be careful. If something happened, well that’s the breaks. There is some merit to warning people about risks like swimming in the ocean. A rip current is the hazard all of these flags warn us about. Had we been aware of these my dad may not have gotten caught in one with a girl he was swimming with. Dad thankfully got himself out of the situation unscathed. Many do not. Rip currents are dangerous even on my beloved Great Lakes.

Not only do the flags warn of the rip currents, they warn of other things like harmful marine life nearby (blue flag), or other weather situations. They even warn you when it’s calm. “Exercise Caution” reads the sign. (green flag)

When I go to the beach I hope there’s waves. I want to play with the kids in the waves. The bigger the better. That’s my memory of childhood at the beach. There were never flags telling you that these big waves represented danger. So we swam and had fun.
Yesterday the waves were appealing to us to come play. We did, but I saw those red flags. “Dangerous Surf Conditions” read the warning. The waves weren’t that big. This is the Gulf of Mexico, placid, calm, serene.

So we played in the waves. The kids had fun, I tried to but kept peeking at the red flags.
I’d rather swim without the flags. Use due caution without the withering don’t you dare glare of a elementary school drill master. We swam with flags and enjoyed it a bit less than I think I might have had there been no flags.

Life is the same. Paul, or whoever wrote Hebrews warned his audience of drift. Drift doesn’t happen to you when you’re sitting around. I’ve sat in chairs and have yet to drift into trouble. The only drifting I do in a chair is drifting off to sleep as the day winds to an end and I’ve lost interest in whatever I’m reading or watching. Drift happens in water mainly.

I recall a story of a family enjoying a day on the Niagara River. Now being on the Niagara River should bring up warning flags right away. Niagara……Falls……. the word we all associate with Niagara. Well anyway, the family didn’t pay attention to the fact that not only were they drifting, a very natural occurrence on any river, but they were drifting to the falls. By the time they were aware of their drifting towards oblivion it was too late. Somehow the family’s boat drifted up against a rock and they were saved. Their problem? They weren’t aware of drift.

Hebrews 2:1-4
1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, 3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

God’s Word is given to us as a warning. The Holy Spirit is gives signs and wonders as a warning. What is the danger of drift? Neglecting your salvation. You are given many red flags in life by God. Especially in the United States. Our lives are surrounded by Christians, churches, TV preachers, Christian radio. There’s movies that proclaim a Christian message. Rock bands, rappers, country singers, ballerinas, football players, politicians, skaters, actors, actresses, baseball players, even some Green Bay Packers, all proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Some ignore the red flags and die because they neglected so great a salvation. Others, having received so great a salvation have a new responsibility. Stopping the drift.
Most people who die drift towards their death, a regretful look back at opportunities to
become a follower of Jesus neglected. Who will be the red flag warning of the dangerous currents that threaten every person who isn’t a Jesus follower? We should be. We’re supposed to be. We can’t neglect the great salvation that we can help bring to others.