Suddenly, he sees him—a child has gone out too far and is flailing and gasping for air. The lifeguard sounds the horn to clear the water. With speed and grace he races for the parking lot with keys in hand. He jumps in his car and races home to get his swimsuit and life ring. Years of training will pay off today, certainly.
Or will it?
Will the child still be seeking help after the lifeguard has found his suit and life ring and returned to the beach? Very doubtful. One of two likely possibilities will have occurred by the time he returns.
- The child will have drowned.
- Someone with less training will have saved the day.
Let’s consider the situation of a lifeguard. A lifeguard does not know what will happen. His job is to be available for the unknown– unknown circumstances at an unknown point in time. But how does he prepare for the unknown?
- Learning to swim and the gaining of water proficiency
- Training, practice, and certification in water safety
- Training, practice, and certification in life saving methods
- Learning beach procedures/regulations
- Maintaining and keeping swimming and rescue equipment near at hand
- Being at the beach vigilant
The failure in achieving and maintaining any of the above preparations may well make him useless when the need arises.
So WHY are we talking about lifeguards?
One can use a lifeguard as a useful model for the life of a Christian. We know what we are needed to do in a general sense, but often not in a specific sense. As a lifeguard knows he is to help those in need, but does not know the exact time or circumstances, a Christian also knows he is to help those in need, with specific knowledge. As a lifeguard must prepare for the unknown, Christians must as well. A failure to be prepared may mean failure to be available. We may look and act prepared, but we aren’t.
I have known many people who do not prepare because “they don’t feel called.” First, I think that is bad theology. All Christians are called to serve. Frankly, the question is not about being called, but being prepared, available, for when the need arises. If you are called… are you ready?