Dolphin enthusiast, marine admirer and ocean lover Noelle wadded into the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico bursting with excitement at the adventure ahead - her first excursion into salt waters on a stand-up paddleboard. The beach attendant from the paddleboard shop helped her up onto her board and gave her the basic instructions, although she barely heard his words over the daydreams of dolphin encounters swirling through her mind. She steadied herself on the board, grabbed her paddle and pushed off into the wide open waters.
From the shore we all watched her glide along the calm, serene blue sea. It was a picturesque scene plucked straight from a postcard. But then the scene became disconcerting. Noelle was venturing far off into the waters. Her, sixteen-year old, five foot four frame looking smaller and smaller with each passing moment.
From the shore we all began to shout in a futile attempt to get Noelle's attention. We frantically waved our arms up and down, motioning to the shore. It was like a game of charades but Noelle didn't know we were playing. She didn't even look in the direction of dry land. In her blissful state of unaware Noelle continued floating further away from the shore and further down the coast.
Desperate to bring back our oblivious seafarer we rushed back to the beach attendant. He powered up his jet ski and zoomed off in Noelle's direction. Immediately he knew the predicament. Without knowing, Noelle had been taken away in the ocean's current. With the dazzling dolphin display distracting her, Noelle had completely forgotten to look at the land and pay attention to the course of her journey.
As we watched the attendant pull Noelle out of the current and back to the safety of shore I saw a vivid picture of God's rescue for me. How many times have I wandered off God's path in blissful ignorance? It begins so innocently. I simply take my eyes off of the cross for what feels like a split-second and before I know it I'm a mile away from the safe, God-honoring path.
Thankfully, God has deployed a rescue mission fulfilled in the cross, accomplished by Jesus Christ. God knew I would venture down ill-fated roads and get terribly off course so He planned for my redemption. Just like the lifeguard who is at the ready to jump in and save the drowning, or the beach attendant who is ready to pull in a stranded paddleboarder, God has placed Jesus at the ready to come to my aid and pull me to safety. Only through salvation in Jesus can I be pulled from the currents of sin and the tide of rebellion. I will only make it back to shore by the blood of Jesus.
I am happy to conclude Noelle's saga with good news. She made it back to land safe and sound and with quite a story to tell and a lesson to share: don't take your eyes off of God because before you know it you'll be perilously far away from the safety of His shore.