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Jul 07

Red Flags, the Bible, and the Beach

Our family recently returned from a week of vacation at Panama City Beach on the gulf coast of Florida.   Every day we were there the “red flags” were flying, which basically means “be ultra-careful” due to the presence of riptides and currents.  Though I had grown up in coastal central Florida and know about riptides all too well, I had forgotten how strong they can be after 24 years in Atlanta.  (If you haven’t experienced one, try walking against the flow in the “little hooch” lazy  river at Whitewater Park in Atlanta or similar water park and you’ll get the idea).

We have two small kids, so we generally only let them in the water around their ankles when we are not in the water with them, and if we are in deeper water up to their waists they pretty much have to be within five yards or so of an easy grab by me.  Nonetheless one afternoon my son was quickly sucked out into water up to his neck in a channel that developed in front of us.  He wasn’t aware he was in deep water danger until I was just a few feet away, so he hadn’t yet panicked.  I had to reach out to him, get him around his chest and under his arm, and pull him back in against the current…a struggle even for me with feet on the ocean floor in waist deep water with swells nearly over my six foot head.  Thankfully a crisis was averted, and we simply did not venture out in that part of the ocean again.

That was just a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve since learned two people drowned that same week very close to where we were staying–we saw the rescue units go by and suspected others had gotten into trouble with the current.  And one of the drownings was a father rescuing his son.

Then a facebook friend posted another friend’s account of a potential near-drowning that appears to have occurred the same week as well, just a couple of miles down the road where our BigStuf friends were gathered for one of their weekly youth conferences.  This author tells his story and reminds us that we need to be careful of red flags in life as well as at the beach, drawing these helpful comparisons between dangerous waters and sin:

We had walked away from our accountability.

It looked like people were enjoying it.

We had thought it would be okay to step out into it…just a little.

We were pulled out farther into it than we wanted to go.

We were kept in it longer than we wanted to stay.

We were powerless to get out of it on our own and had to humble ourselves, cry out to Jesus and ask for help.

And Jesus showed up, tattooed and riding on a wave-runner.

Read his story here.

Josh Riley

Husband, father, teacher, coach, business management consultant, real estate guy, program manager, children's discipleship leader, weatherbug, writer, speaker, workshop presenter, 176 other things and founder of

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