I’ll never forget the one and only time I rescued someone from drowning. While attending the YMCA National Swimming Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, our swim club spent some time at the beach body surfing in some unusually large waves. A series of thunderstorms had rolled through the area making the waves and undertow treacherous even for experienced competitive swimmers. Out about one hundred yards, I spotted an elderly woman in distress going under the surf repeatedly. I simply grabbed her, reassured her, and told her I would take her in. Despite the fact we were both pushed under the waves several times on the way back to shore, the woman simply trusted that I would bring her in safely. Back on the beach, the head lifeguard thanked me and offered me, as a fourteen-year old, a job on the spot. I said I’m not certified. He said, “I’ll certify you.” I told him I didn’t think my parents in Illinois would go for me moving to Ft. Lauderdale and we left it at that.
The Red Cross is responsible for Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor (WSI) training throughout the United States. The students are instructed in water safety, stroke mechanics, and survival and rescue techniques. During my mom’s WSI training physical exam, she was expected to perform a mock rescue of a swimmer in distress. A fellow WSI trainee named Curt was her pretend victim. The victim is told to act frightened and initially uncooperative as the trainee seeks to calm the victim and then bring him safely to the pool’s edge. Minutes into the “rescue,” Curt continued to be uncooperative and combative. Mom gently exhorted Curt to relax and trust her. He decided to make things difficult for her by continuing to thrash about in the water making a rescue nearly impossible and her failure inevitable. WSI students are taught to release and even submerge the victim to prevent two tragedies from occurring in the water. Mom, having run out of patience with Curt, simply took her hand, reached under his arm pit, and pulled as much armpit hair as she could grasp. Instantly Curt was calm and compliant for the rest of the rescue. I remember other students actually cheering for her.
I often see the same tendencies in people when it comes to God’s desire to rescue them from sin and destruction. There’s just something about us that wants to make things difficult for Him or to try to help Him out (save ourselves). But we are incapable of saving ourselves, and whenever we try, we end up making things even worse. No, the Lord will not pull your armpit hair out to get you to cooperate, but He will not make you accept his help, deliverance, and restoration if you do not want it. Let me encourage you today to listen to the calming voice of the Holy Spirit, relax, and let the Lord bring you back to safety. He is truly our lifeguard. Trust Him. He’s on duty, and He will not fail to rescue you when you call out to Him.