A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
The flag was busily snapping in the wind. Judy and I had journeyed to Panama City Beach burning a few leftover vacation days and looking for a little white space before we started a busy new year. White space is that thing you have when there is less pressure to be and do and it gives you an opportunity to recoup, recharge, and restore. I know in our world that is a rare thing and therefore an especially valuable thing. We were sitting on the balcony looking at the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying the balmy 76-degree temperature. Can someone say, “Paradise?” It was then I really noticed the flag.
To help swimmers stay safe in the Gulf waters, the local authorities have flag poles up and down the beach and the color of the flag informs the beach goers of the water conditions. A green flag means everything is good…calm waters and currents. A yellow flag indicates that there is a slight risk and one should at least pay attention to the waves and the currents. A red flag means that no one should go into the water…there are significant waves and dangerous currents. A double red is as if they are shouting the warning. Well, yesterday, when we arrived there was a yellow flag and it was warm enough that more than a few people were swimming. Then came today.
Judy was out on the balcony and I was inside writing Grits. She watched as the safety patrol came by and changed the flag from yellow to red. While the waves were a little boisterous the real danger was what was happening under the water—riptide. Riptide is an undertow that can quickly pull you away from the shore and immediately put you in danger. Apparently that danger was greater than normal. The internet said it and so did the flag but surprisingly many people simply ignored it.
I joined Judy on the balcony for breakfast and a break from writing. I watched as a young lady, probably in her late teens, walked right pass the flag pole with its red flag. She was carrying a wave board and her beach stuff. She set down her board and bag, spread out her towel and quickly removed her swim coverup. And then, without a thought, grabbed her board and headed out into the water. Soon she was further out than anyone else and the current had moved her probably thirty yards down shore. No, this story doesn’t have a tragic ending but from my fifth story balcony it did give me a clear perspective. While she probably never even saw the red flag, I could see it clearly and because I saw it clearly I knew there was a danger. I knew I needed to stay clear of the water.
I found it intriguing that some saw the warning and heeded it, some saw the warning and ignored it, and some blindly ran straight into the danger…totally unaware and it made me think. Today is New Year’s Eve. That means tomorrow we will, Lord willing, walk right into a brand New Year and we know now from past experience that we really don’t know what this new year will hold. The good news is there is Someone who does know and that someone is the God who created all of this. And here is more good news. First, He loves us dearly and wants more than anything for us to be able to call Him Father. That happens by believing in His Son…the One we just celebrated at Christmas. Google it…it is an incredible story.
Second, if we are willing to believe and listen, He too will give us wisdom and guidance for this New Year. No, it probably won’t be a green, yellow, red or double red flag—it will be something better—His Word. The Bible isn’t just a rule book—a bunch of do’s and don’ts but rather it is a love letter where the One extending the love shares how to make the most of life. In fact, Jesus said, “A thief (that is Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” But what He says next is amazing, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Someone said that translates as, “the life that is really life.” I like that.
So, as we launch into 2022, and knowing more than ever before how uncertain a New Year can be, why not check out a relationship with Creator God…why not check out Jesus? If you have or if you do now would be a great time to get into His Word and watch for the “flags” He shows you. Oh, and here is more good news. If you do find yourself in dangerous waters, don’t worry, He will still be there for you. Over the din of the waves and the pull of the current, you will hear Him shouting, “It’s OK…I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne