“Oh God, I’m 25 and I’m going to die?!” I screamed.
I was treading water caught in a rip current with absolutely no strength or swimming ability to make my way back through the waves to the safety of the beach. Panic rose from the pit of my stomach into my throat as my friend was washed out and looked as if he was about to lose it beside me.
“Let’s just hang in and hope someone sees us, wave.”
It was a frightening moment. I was a Christian, had promised to serve Jesus all my life, and now it looked as if I’d be meeting Him way sooner than I’d anticipated. Then I saw a surfer take hold of his board and run down the beach heading our way.
“He's coming for us!” I shouted.
A few minutes later, grasping white-knuckled onto the board, surfed smoothly back to safety and the solid ground of the most beautiful beach in the world right then. What a relief, how thankful we were. Someone said, “We saw your hand in the air and thought you were waving, and then we realized…”
Life and circumstances change so quickly. Good things happen, and bad things happen, in the blink of an eye. Often neither good nor bad is earned or deserved, is fair, or is always easily understood. That reality can cause us to live a life of fear with a negative approach to everything “because of the possible danger”, “I knew this person who…. and then……”
That’s why the computer keyboard has a delete button. It provides the same function as the surfer who rescued me. When I get into trouble, take a wrong turning, or make a mistake I hit Delete and continue on as if the ‘mistake’ never happened.
The Delete button is a functional part of my keyboard that's almost worn out from use. It’s a wonderful gift that takes the weight and edge off my walking around cursing because I made another ‘typo’. I’ve used it countless times already finger-pecking out this article (but when you read it you have no clue).
Life with Jesus is never meant to be about sterility, safety, perfection, no risk, and being a faultless speller or trouble free. Jesus was constantly encouraging His disciples. “Don’t be afraid, fear not, in this world you will have trouble.” Then came the greatest promises of all time: “I will not leave you as orphans, I have overcome the world, I will never leave you or forsake you,” (John 14:18, John 16:33, Hebrews 13:5)
What’s the foundation revelation and truth of the Christian Gospel? God so loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son into the world (the waves)… not to condemn, but to save.” (John 3:16) Jesus was a savior/surfer!
I went swimming with friends off the coast of Africa in a place we were assured was safe; and usually is. Except there’d been storms and everything was a little ‘wilder’ than normal. The truth is, I didn’t even realize that I was swimming into trouble until attempting to return to the beach. Too late!
Sheep eat grass, head bent low, nibble a bit here, nibble a bit there, nibble bit more here, then nibble bit again over there….. eventually it’s enough.
Look up, lost!
He didn’t mean to.
That’s when he learns why he needs a shepherd. One who watches, who calls him by name, who appears over the horizon, who lifts him on his shoulders and carries him home to the others – the ninety-nine.
There’s a massive difference living life without Delete, a Savior, or a Shepherd. Much more cover up of mistakes, drowning in circumstances, and bleating all alone in the hills. Loads more guilt, fear, sense of intimidation, and hopelessness.
The vast majority of people around us are living with masses of ‘mistakes’ that they don’t know how to delete. Such an option seems too good to be true (why the Gospel is called “Good News’).
Self-deleting is manifest by trying harder, addictions of multiple shapes and sizes, depression, denial, anger, blaming, and countless other destructive behaviors. Because we cannot save ourselves from drowning nor rescue ourselves when we’re lost. We can't even erase our mistakes.
Those who follow Jesus have incredible "Good News' to share. Not by jumping on the drowning, or berating the lost, but rather by demonstrating grace. What does 'deleted or being forgiven' look like? What does 'once was lost. now I'm found' feel like? What difference does it make today?
The trouble with so much of churchy Christianity is that we tend to talk about stuff without sharing personal encounter. It's the personal encounter that makes the words of the Bible come to life. It's the words of encounter that give those around me hope, or thirst, or interest to ask another question.
If you're feeling dry, or spiritually depleted go back to what first attracted you, inspired you, or caused you to weep with gratitude. Allow the Spirit of God to fan those flames again and then ask Him to give you someone to share your story with. See how you come alive when they catch the spark of faith you've ignited. I've witnessed and experienced precisely that blessing in a coffee shop and in my office in the last few days.
Give away what you have and more will come to you. Be yourself, speak with your own voice. You don't have to compete with anyone else. Your story is unique and has power and possibly a revelation of hope for another when Jesus is at the center.
And even when you stumble and stutter you'll be humbled and amazed how God uses a willing heart looking outward to make a difference in someone's life. Remember when He spoke about the value and power of even giving a stranger a cup of water? Believe me, when I nearly drowned I didn't interview the guy on the surfboard... I was so grateful for him, period.
Give thanks, look outward, and share what you have. As Scotia bank says: "You're richer than you think."
And remember Psalm 34:4
[Delete] in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."