Caught in a Riptide by Merry Boehi
People Are Drowning … What Will We Do?
Many of you have enjoyed the beautiful white sandy beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Imagine that you’re soaking up the sun or perhaps eating lunch by the beach when you hear some shouting and realize that several people are caught in a riptide. What would you do?
That’s exactly what happen earlier this summer in Panama City Beach, Florida. As the Panama City News Herald reports, Roberta Usrey and her family were enjoying the beach when her sons began shouting that they were stuck in a current just offshore.
Unwilling to watch them drown, Ursrey and her family swam out to them, but the rip current was much stronger than they realized and despite her best efforts to escape, they were trapped as well. All in all, Ursrey said, nine people were stuck in about 15 feet of water, including her mother, who suffered a massive heart attack during the ordeal and very nearly died.
“I honestly thought I was going to lose my family that day,” Ursrey said. “It was like, ‘Oh God, this is how I’m going.’ “
Jessica Simmons and her husband were also visiting the beach that day, and they saw people on the beach pointing to the group of drowning swimmers. But unlike the other bystanders, who were undoubtedly fearful of getting caught in the riptide, they took action.
Simmons isn’t the type of person to stand by and watch someone in distress. Back in Alabama, where she’s from, Simmons said she once walked 11 miles after a tornado to help people clean up their mess and get their lives back together. So when she saw Ursrey’s family in trouble, she grabbed the boogie board and started toward them while her husband and a few other men started a human chain to bring the swimmers back to shore.
“These people are not drowning today,” Simmons remembered telling herself. “It’s not happening. We’re going to get them out.”
As Simmons paddled, the human chain grew, with 80 people stretching over 100 yards out to the distressed swimmers.
Simmons and her husband began the swimmers and towing them to the human chain, which then passed each one along until they reached shore. “It was the most remarkable thing to see,” Simmons said. “These people who don’t even know each other and they trust each other that much to get them to safety.”
Ursrey and her family all survived. “These people were God’s angels that were in the right place at the right time. I owe my life and my family’s life to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”
Think of it: Eighty strangers banded together to save a group of drowning swimmers.
“It’s so cool to see how we have our own lives and we’re constantly at a fast pace, but when somebody needs help, everybody drops everything and helps,” Simmons said. “That was really inspiring to see that we still have that. With everything going on in the world, we still have humanity.”
As I reflect on that story I can’t help but compare it to something that is even more important than saving nine lives. It’s the impact we could have if we truly worked together as a church to reach our families and coworkers for Christ.
In so many ways the people around us are caught in a riptide. They are stuck because no one has bothered to talk them about a relationship with Christ. We are fearful that we won’t have the right words to say, or that the person will think we are judgmental, or that our words will ruin the relationship.
But in reality fear is only a smoke screen.
Do we really believe that the people in our lives are living in total darkness without a relationship with Christ?
Do we really believe that people want to hear the message of Christ?
Do we really believe that people will be eternally separated from God if they don’t know Christ?
I often say that when I was young I was so bold in my faith that I felt I could attack hell with a squirt gun. But it’s so easy in our culture to become hesitant and unsure about telling others about our faith.
But it’s not really up to us, is it? In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 Paul tells us:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
Some of you may be part of the chain by living out your life and deeds at work. I know talking about Christ in the workplace is often frowned upon, so we have to be creative in how we approach this. I think the key is building friendships. Maybe you make sure you have lunch with some of your coworkers who don’t believe the way you do. Perhaps you give someone a cupcake for their birthday. Ask God to show you specific ways you can best show others that Christ is the answer for them.
Regardless of where you find yourself in the human chain we can’t forget the simple truth. People do need Christ, for they are caught in the riptide of life and are drowning. Am I going to sit comfortably by and watch as people drown? Just as Jessica Simmons grabbed her boogie board and headed to the drowning people I want to say, “Where’s my squirt gun?” I’m ready once again to try to charge hell with the power of the Holy Spirit and link arms with fellow believers to be a part of His rescue mission.
How about you? Got some water for your squirt gun?
The Staff Meeting or/and Table Talk
What is “The Staff Meeting”? : A once a month meeting on topics that relate to you the working woman.
Table Talk: Using the book ” Work, Love, Pray by Diane Paddison we hope to start small groups throughout Central Arkansas. Let us know if you are interested in hosting a small group. We will provide the book and the questions for you. You just need to grab some co-workers or friends near your workplace. If you have any questions email us at [email protected]