Rob Oliver ~ Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

            Growing up I spent as much of my summers in the water as possible. One of my favorite times of the year was our annual vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We spent a week there every summer. There were many fun things to do such as play volleyball on the beach, build sand castles, play miniature golf, and swim. There was great swimming. Our room was right on the beach.

            One exciting thing about the Outer Banks is the size of the waves. We would swim out a bit and then let the waves carry us back in. I knew the ocean could be dangerous. The lifeguards warned about strong tides and big waves that can knock you down. It is very important to be careful. However, we had swum there for a number of years. (Isn't that like sin? People know sin is dangerous and it will lead to punishment in hell. Sadly, they keep doing what they have always done.)

             In 1993, my understanding of how dangerous the ocean is, changed dramatically. There were 5 or 6 of us swimming in the waves at the Outer Banks. I was swimming with a big wave towards shore. Suddenly, the wave pushed my shoulders down and my head hit the bottom. At that instant, I heard a popping noise in my neck and felt a coldness come over my body. I tried to move my arms to swim to the surface, but they would not move. My legs would not kick. My body would not do what I wanted. A feeling of total helplessness followed as I realized the only way I was going to get out of the water was if someone else helped me.

            Suddenly, I became aware of how alone I was. I needed someone to rescue me, but no one was even aware of my need. The ocean rolled my body around, allowing my face to come above the surface for a split second. I gulped a quick breath of air before going under again. I began to pray that someone would get me out. One of my friends saw my face. When I did not stand up, he realized something was wrong. Coming to where I was, he pulled me out of the water. As I lay on the beach, I was thankful for being rescued. Knowing that I had the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior gave me great comfort. I knew that if I did die, I would be in Heaven. If I didn’t, He would be with me through every difficult circumstance.

            Sinners are helpless, just like I was. They are unable to help themselves. God says they are "without strength" (Romans 5:6). The same verse says Christ paid the price to rescue ungodly sinners. He came to where we are and died on the cross for our sins. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

            Every person needs to place their trust in the Savior to be safe from being punished for sins. Have you?