“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

As a child I swam every day in summer from morning until afternoon. One summer I had the opportunity to learn water safety.  I had to learn to save and be saved in the water and get the basics on CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation.  One of my favorite sessions was on using the life saving device.  The instructor would throw it to us and we would grab on and be hauled into safety.  As kids we begged him to “save” us so we could ride the life buoy in.  I am very thankful there was never a need for a water rescue in my life, but there came a point when I needed a different kind of saving and it was truly life or death.

As a child my parents took me to church every Sunday.  I participated in Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, worked in the nursery and then attended youth group, as “good” Christian teens do.  All appeared to be just right on the outside but there was a battle raging in my heart and mind.  I liked the things of the world a bit too much and that went against what I was taught to believe.  In high school I started hanging with the wrong crowd and was being pulled away from what was right and good.  In my Jr. year I knew that I was going to end up in a very bad place if I didn’t make a change, that’s when the first rescue device was sent hurling toward me.

By God’s grace, I was able to leave the environment I was in and attend a different school, miles away from the things pulling me down.  It was hard for sure, but it was good and I was starting to feel like I would make it.  After graduating I went to a small, Christian college and knew I would be safe from the pull of the world by sheltering myself in the mountains.  I was wrong by thinking that a new location would “save” me and by my sophomore year had plunged into the depths again.  It was a relationship this time.  A man I fell for lied to me over and over again…yet I was determined to believe he was for real and would be the answer to my heart’s longing.  When I left school that year I had a gaping wound in my soul and was at the end of a dark road with nowhere to go.  That was when the second life-saving device came hurling at me and this time I grabbed it and held on for dear life.

It was at this time I realized that I could not stay in the water and be rescued from it as well.  I either had to hold on to the help being offered or be willing to drown in the deep.  This morning I was led to read John 3:16 and while reading it over and over, I had a vivid image of God sending me His life buoy, His one and only son, Jesus.  He threw His only son into the raging waters for my sake even though He knew it would result in the son’s death.   Jesus willingly died a violent death to give you and me freedom from the weight of the world and from its rituals and legalistic ways.  He was then raised from death after three days to give us eternal life.  I chose to hold on to God’s life buoy at that painful time in my life and I still hold on to this day.  When I think of the people I know who refuse to be rescued, who think they can go it alone and who are drowning in the torrid waters of life, my heart aches and hurts for them.  Being on this side of the Rescuer is not easy.  Life and all its ugliness still happens, but it’s sure and steady and there is hope that when life here is over that there will be everlasting freedom and joy.  When God offers to save you from the raging seas, the sadness of your life, the hurts inflicted on you, won’t you take hold of His son’s hand and choose freedom and life?  This is a free gift that God has sent our way.  We can’t earn it and we definitely don’t deserve it, but it’s there for us to take hold of and my prayer is that you will.

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