I was at the beach a while back and I noticed a big difference in how two families were watching over their kids. Both seemed to explain and demonstrate the real hazards of playing in the ocean surf; what to be aware of, how to not go too far out, watch out for the big waves, where the nearest life guard stand was, and so on. The kids were trying to listen, but the allure of that mysterious constantly moving water kept their eyes moving from their parents to the ocean, back to the parents, to the other kids playing in the ocean, back to the parents. One child said, “Oh look, there’s a kid riding a wave on his boogie-board”. The kids’ excitement was causing their little legs to walk in place. One kid was so full of pent up energy she was bouncing. Satisfied they had covered all the safety procedures and cautions, the kids were finally released and they took off with screams of joy.
Another set of parents laughed with their kids as they joyfully ran towards the water and snapped a few photos, egging them to have fun and got for it. That was very different from the other set of parents, for from the moment that child had left the mom; she had been shouting the kid’s name. I think his name was Quinton. “Quinton,” she said very sternly, “be careful”, then faster and with more intensity, “Quinton, Quinton, don’t run too fast!”, “Quinton, Quinton, listen to mommy.” Then a cascade of warnings, “Watch out for waves, I hear there are stingrays –shuffle your feet. Here comes a big wave – run back. Look out there’s some seaweed! Watch out for the under-tow. If you’re not careful you’re going to get all wet.” I look over at her to see if she really said that. Isn’t that the point when you play in the big wet ocean? Oh it got more interesting. “Quinton, stay away from that kid, she might push you down.”, she said. Um, Quinton was a big boy and kid next to him was about one-third his size! Well the last comment was the best, “Quinton, Quinton, I think you better get back here, you’re getting too sandy.” You have got to be kidding! Look around lady, you’re at the beach…there is sand everywhere and the sign of a good time is there is sand in every known crevice of your body! Now don’t worry I did not say that out loud, just under my breath in astonishment. Poor Quinton did not know what to do. He had not even gotten his feet wet yet; his once brave stride had been diminished to tenuous fearful testing of the water with a fearful look on his face. As he looked back at his mom’s explosion of cautions a half-inch wave had just barely grazed his toes. He looked down in shock, unsure what to think, darted a look towards his mom who instantly launched herself to his aid, as if he were drowning, now screaming, “Quinton, Quinton, mommy is here.” Quinton glanced back at the little girl who was now squealing with joy of the water surrounding her feet. Just as Quinton was about to be ok with this cold water thing, mommy whisked him up in a towel coddling him as he now started to cry.
The other little family was very different. As the kids skipped and ran full board to the water, dad jumped up and said, “Me too!”, and sprinted past the kids. The kids jumped and played in the water. One got rolled around by a few waves laughing and shaking off the sand, seaweed, and water like a dog and sputtered, “again, again!”
As I observed these two very different families I started to think about how this is a good picture of how people view the Christian life. Some, like Quinton’s family, are so worried and fearful of what might happen they have a tough time enjoying the life God gave them. They are too safe to take the risk to go anywhere. They sit on the beach and just watch others having fun. Oh by the way, the whole time I was at the beach Quinton was huddled under a towel in arms reach of mommy.
There is a great Scripture that challenges us to take risks…
2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
The words “make every effort to add” can be translated to “at your own risk add”, to grow in faith and experience all that God has for us. It will take some risk; some risk to do good, risk to increase our brain knowledge, risk to extend some self-control, risk to persevere, risk to choose to be godly, risk to show brotherly kindness, and risk to love even when we are not loved back! See, to really live takes risk.
The other family was in the water the whole time I was there. They even coaxed mom to come in who tacked the dad and I think gave him a wedgie!
God has blessed us with so much of life to experience and enjoy, sure we need to be safe and wise, but are we being too safe to take the needed risk to grow in our faith. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to waste my time huddled on the beach wishing I would have taken the risk.
Seeking to take risks with you,