We’re sailing along life’s peaceful waters when suddenly, a storm hits without warning. Those once placid waters become a carnival ride of crashing waves that leaves us without direction and ultimately struggling to keep our head above the fathomless depths of overwhelming darkness. Only at the point of desperation does that simple, buoyant circle become valuable…when that unfortunate moment comes, our perception of the life preserver changes dramatically. What was once a mere symbol becomes a priceless treasure of immeasurable worth. It is vital. We are utterly dependent.
I guess our view of that life preserver is affected first by our past experiences. Are we afraid of the water altogether? Have we had a near-drowning experience? Some of us are strong swimmers, right? Some of us feel very comfortable in the water.
The truth is that the water in which we swim—some of us with elegant and purposeful strokes and some of us frantically dog-paddling—is sin. And it doesn’t matter how many lessons we’ve had, we cannot conquer it. From the moment the apple’s flesh was pierced by Eve’s perfect pearly whites, we entered those waters of sin. There is no boat to keep us dry. We are each one vulnerable to the inevitable storm. Every one of us would succumb to the ocean’s lethal pull were it not for that one infinite ring of Grace…our life preserver…our life’s Redeemer…our Savior.
Mine is the story of a good swimmer who nearly drowned before finally reaching for that life preserver. I had read all the books, been to the seminars, sang the songs, lead the small groups, memorized the verses, made the pledges, baked the cakes, and more. Still, somewhere along the way I overestimated myself and underestimated the enemy. I had reduced grace to a subsidy for my own efforts. In other words, grace was “attainable” when I did my part. What a lie! Grace by definition cannot be attained. Grace is ours to receive and made free to us by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
May I never forget that feeling of desperation as the waters of sin began to fill my lungs. May I forsake every vain attempt to keep myself afloat. May I remain utterly dependent. God, grant that I may rest securely in your grace. May I live each day in gratitude for that grace that has been so freely lavished on me.
In the name of Jesus, my grace-giver,