We've always loved the beach. As a family, we try our best to see if we can find a nice secluded spot to swim in the places we travel to. Of course, sometimes a secluded spot is not necessarily the safest spot.
Years ago, when we only had our three oldest children, we took a little vacation on the beach in Corpus Cristi. We found a nice, secluded spot, put on the kids' floaty suits, and jumped in, with one of us always with little baby Stephen on the shore.
We didn't realize there had been a tropical storm not far off the coast.
Taking my turn with Kathy and Jonathan in the water, I took them out to the place past where the waves would break, so they wouldn't always get slapped in the face by water.
Within minutes, we discovered a rip tide.
Rip tides are like fast-flowing rivers which flow out to sea right under the surface of the water. It can carry people away from the shoreline in a matter of minutes, and unless they knew how to get out of the rip tide, they can exhaust themselves all the while continuing to go out to sea.
I dove underwater, glided about ten yards, and then came up and looked around. What I saw chilled me to the bone:
my toddlers were swiftly heading out to sea.
I swam to them quickly and assessed our situation. With their floaty suits on, the kids couldn't drown, but we were rapidly being pulled away from the shore, and I could no longer touch the bottom with my feet. Here I had two small children, 3 and 2, to somehow tow, and I wasn't strong enough to swim against the tide myself, let alone with them. And I wasn't about to leave them.
Many of us have trials and troubles enough to fill an encyclopedia, but we also have loved ones to take care of. God Himself can give us the strength to take care of the things we need to.
There will be times in our lives when a loved one goes under. Maybe a long illness has taken its toll. There may be a traumatic situation in the past which continues to create difficult situations. Perhaps they have had a setback at work. Or maybe a friend has had a child go wayward. The catastrophic situation brings heartbreak. Depression sets in, and they need help. In times like these, it's easy to panic, to be pulled under by the others' flailing. If we're to be any help at all, we must be calm, careful, and prayerful.
Don't Panic! In times when a loved one is going through a difficult situation, it may be hard not to mirror their feelings and go into a tailspin yourself.
Keep your own head up; make sure your lifeline to God is strong. Always remember that He holds you.
Get behind them! In lifesaving, we are taught to get behind the person and reach around under their arms.
Our loved one needs to know that we're behind them, supporting them. Just as you would never shout to a drowning person, "Oh, knock it off, will ya? Just swim!" It would be silly to tell someone, "Oh, you'll be fine. Just cheer up!"
Talk to them Calmly!
Reassure them that it really will be OK, you're behind them and God is strengthening them.
Get them to the place where they can stand!
As quickly as possible, take them to Jesus, who can help them through the deep waters. Pray with them, pray for them, and tell them any reassuring Scriptures you can think of that may be a blessing.
Once they're standing, however, it's time to let go!
The kids must have read my face, and they were starting to worry. One of them was just about to cry, when I quickly put on a cheery face and said, "OK, guys, looks like we need to get a little closer to shore!" Knowing I needed their help, I told them, "I'm going to need you guys to help me get us all in, OK? You both hold onto me, because I'm going to need my arms and my legs to get us in, and when I tell you to kick, kick hard!"
With my precious cargo in tow, I began to swim gently but powerfully parallel to the coast. I knew rip tides can be wide, but I also knew that I could eventually get out of them by swimming along the coast to get out of the rapidly flowing river. Once I got free of the rip tide, I could then get into shore easily, as long as I didn't wear myself out.
The waves were pushing us toward the shoreline while the water underneath was pulling us out. I decided to take advantage of the waves, resting between them. "OK, guys, here comes a wave. Kick!" It was a two steps forward, one and a half step back process
Finally, I felt the sandy bottom brush my toes, and I dug in. For the first few waves, it was a worthless attempt, as my toes merely scraped along the ocean floor, but eventually I got a foothold & was able to really keep myself, and my loved ones, from going any further out. Soon we were able to get to shore.
We were safe!
Sometimes people need a little help from their loved ones. Let's be the ones who can take them to where they can stand.