They say that drowning is one of the worst ways to go.
To drown is to be unable to “catch your breath.”
All our lives we assume that “the breath” is ours to catch.
I watched my father slowly die of a lung disease much like COVID; basically, he drowned.
Sometimes I think of that when I’m anxious and trying to sleep.
“Be still and know that I am God,” says the Lord.
And I think, “Yeah… Right! It was you that led me to this point.”
3500 years ago, an entire nation of slaves—none of whom, had taken swim lessons at the community pool—found themselves pinned against the banks of the Red Sea.
They had no place to look but up.
And when they looked up into that pillar of fire and smoke, they had to realize that it was the “Angel of Yahweh” that had led them to this point.
They cried out, “Did you not have enough graves in Egypt?”
They wondered, “Did you lead us here just to watch us drown?”
It was then that Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord… The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be still.”
That’s what Moses said, but Moses must’ve been asking the same questions as the people, for at this point, God says to Moses, “Why do you cry to me?”
Like Moses, I’ve cried to the Lord, “Why did you lead me to this point …just to watch me drown? I thought I was following you, Jesus.”
That name “Jesus” literally means “God is Salvation.”
What kind of a savior just watches people drown?
Some argue that God is like a lifeguard who swims out to a person drowning in the sea, but if that person doesn’t ask him to be saved, God will just watch that person drown, for he will not violate our “free will.”
Those people are often called “Arminian” …and they make terrible lifeguards.
Some argue that God is not limited by our “free-will,” for in fact, we’re all drowning in bad will, and it’s his Good Free Will to save us from our bad will, due to no merit of our own.
I think that’s right. But these people often go on to say that God chooses to not save some, just to prove that he freely chose to save others and thereby make them grateful.
These people are often called “Calvinists” …and they make terrible lifeguards.
But what kind of a lifeguard would just watch a person drown?
Actually, a pretty good one.
I used to be a lifeguard. They told us several times: “A large drowning person is very difficult to save because they are so desperately trying to save themselves; they won’t be still. And so, it’s imperative that you swim to them, stop at arm’s length, and just watch them drown. When they come to the end of their own strength, you can save them with your strength; you can swim for them and they have only to be still.”
God has enough strength to overpower us at any moment. But perhaps he’s saving us from more than water; perhaps he’s saving us from reliance upon our own strength—the absurd notion that “Peter is his own salvation.” If I believe “Peter is Salvation,” I can’t believe “God is Salvation;” I can’t have faith.
God said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people to go forward.” Utterly devoid of other options, they did. And so, God saved them. And so, they laughed and sang as they watched the bodies of dead Egyptians wash up onto the shore.
“That’s nice,” we say. But silently we wonder, “What about the Egyptians and the fact that almost all the Israelites died in the wilderness and sank down into Sheol?”
Isaiah prophesied that one day Egypt will know and worship the Lord.
Ezekiel prophesied that “the whole house of Israel” will rise from the graves and enter the Promised Land.
According to Scripture, we all drown, and we all are saved …from ourselves—the illusion that we are our own creator, savior, and redeemer.
He is “the Savior of all people, especially those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
He saves all people every time anyone is saved from anything.
But we especially need to be saved from unbelief in “God is Salvation.”
Paul taught that the Red Sea was a baptism.
Baptism represents dying to yourself and rising with Christ.
The Israelites (and Americans) wanted God to save their bodies.
Paul asked God to save him from his body of death that he might rise in the Body of Christ, free to love and be loved in the eternal dance of life that is the Kingdom of God.
Every Red Sea experience is a dress rehearsal for death and resurrection.
And in the process, God imparts Faith.
Faith is not simply necessary for salvation; Faith is Salvation.
If you assume that you are your own creator, savior, and redeemer, you will not be able to bear the unmitigated presence of the absolute and relentless Love that is your Lord.
And Faith in “God is Salvation” IS Salvation, not only after the body dies, but right now.
It is the ability to laugh… and most of all, laugh at yourself.
One day you will not be able to catch your breath, but in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, you will realize that the Breath of God has always caught you, and you will laugh like you’ve never laughed before. You will laugh. By faith, you can begin to laugh now.
When I was a lifeguard, I only saved one person, but I saved him quite a lot.
He was five, couldn’t swim, but loved the water.
Every time I would save Michael, he would be laughing.
I gave him lectures; I told him he might die; I tried to get mad, but each and every time, he’d look at me with those big eyes as if to say, “Why should I be afraid? Every time I start to drown, you swim for me, and I have only to be still.”
Michael was my favorite. He was my champion, for he had made me his champion.
Faith in me was misplaced trust, but faith in Jesus is never misplaced.
Right now, the entire world is terrified of COVID, economic collapse, political turmoil, and what it all means; the world is terrified of drowning.
To preach the Gospel, just laugh while drowning.
You know what it means: “God is Salvation,” and soon we will see him.