When I was a teenager and saw the movie Lifeguard, starring Sam Elliot, I knew I could not be as cool or good looking as Sam Elliot was, but, I knew that by golly I could become a lifeguard.
For several Saturdays at a local YMCA we would train and learn techniques both in the water and out of the water taught by the Red Cross. And so much of that training I was able to retain and apply to life beyond the pool.
For instance, when someone is in trouble in the water and you go in to bring them out, as long as they are flailing around and panicked you approach them, try to calm them and give yourself enough distance between you and the victim until they tire themselves out, then you go in for the rescue. If you go to them and they panic and can reach you, each of you will be in trouble and you will really have a problem on your hands.
Such is the case in life as well. If you are attempting to rescue someone that is overwhelmed by life, you approach them and try to calm them and relieve their fear. But as long as they are in panic mode and flailing you can not help nor rescue them. When they tire and are about to go under, that is when you can go in and bring them out of danger into safety and then instruct as to how not to get into that predicament again. In the water, in life, same principle.
Another lesson learned. From a lifeguard stand or from the side of a pool we were taught how to go into the water not head first losing all eye contact with the victim but rather, we were taught to cross kick our legs and bring our arms together in front of us and go in with your feet first and head held high. If you hit the water just right you can go in with your head never going under, keeping the victim in your eye sight at all times.
Same is true in life. When you are wanting to help someone, it will do you nor them any good if everyone is underwater and there is no visual contact and communication. When God allows us to rescue someone spiritually you have to keep them in your eyesight and be aware of their position in life in order to best help them to see how God has rescued them.
Is this boring?
Possibly, the greatest life lesson I learned came on graduation day. We were told to come dressed in street clothes, socks, long pants and a long sleeve button up shirt and that they would get wet. I being the “smart one” decided to wear fatigue pants that day made of a very heavy material. Not bright. So not bright it was stupid.
In any case, we were told to get in the water and begin to swim laps with our clothes on in the Olympic size pool. Twenty laps in fact. It was possibly the most exhausted I have ever felt and I was convinced that I would actually die trying to complete the exercise.
As we approached the completion of our final lap we were told to stop twenty or so feet out and begin to tread water. Now I knew I would die. But this is where the lesson came in. They told us they knew we were exhausted and ready to give up. But that we should take our shirt which was buttoned up to our neck and pull it up over our mouth and begin to blow air into it. Somehow I managed to blow air into the front of the shirt and the back of the shirt began to expand and became a float. The air from my lungs and the shirt on my back now inflated was the manner in which I would survive and keep my head above water. I never forgot that lesson. And on days when I think, surely I will sink due to the weight of life and drown and never be heard from again, I remember that day and what I was taught. AS LONG AS YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HEAD ABOVE WATER THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY OF YOU DROWNING. And I have shared that story before with people who were in fact sinking in life unable to swim any further. They already possessed what they needed to survive. They just needed to be taught how to use it.
Did I ever have the opportunity to save someone’s physical life with what I had learned? I certainly did. A gentleman had quietly sunk to the bottom of the pool and I saw him lying on the bottom. Another story for another blog. After I had rescued him from the pool, applied the old school method of mouth-to-mouth and brought him back I knew that because of my training he was alive. Again, in life, if you are not trained and prepared with God’s answers for life’s problems you may watch someone spiritually die right in front of you and not be able to save them.
Did I enjoy my time as a lifeguard? Absolutely. Did I get a great tan? Sure did. Did I become as cool as Sam Elliott? Not even close.
But more importantly, did it teach me life saving skills that I still use to this day as life applications? Without a doubt.
“Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:4
“Rescue me and deliver me out of great waters.” Psalm 144:7
What experiences have you had previously that you can apply to your life in helping others who need to be rescued? I bet that if you list them God will show you how to apply those acquired skills, experiences and God given abilities to your life which will allow you to help those He will bring into your path.