Notice others, be aware of the people around you.
I was at the beach with my family enjoying the waves, sun, and sand. The red warning flag was flying when we arrived so we knew we needed to be careful. Winston, who is my brother in law, and I were looking at the waves and the people swimming when I noticed a lady on a floating small air bed struggling. Her eleven year old daughter was on a small kick board kicking furiously in an attempt to help her mom back to shore. They were stuck and they were in danger. I pointed out the unfolding drama to Winston. We talked about the situation and decided to wait a minute to see if they could break free. When it was obvious they were in danger we both jumped up and ran into the water.
Winston, who was a more experienced swimmer than me, ran down the beach, dove in and swam straight to the lady using the riptide’s force. I dove in and approached the area from the right. I could feel the undertow’s force pulling me out. I stopped and instantly swam a little left toward shore to get out of the current before I was overpowered.
As I moved toward shore I noticed two young boys who were in the danger zone. Both were barely able to touch bottom. Every time they jumped up they were being pulled further away from the beach by the riptide. I rushed to the kids grabbed their hand and pulled them closer to shore. I handed them over to their grandpa, who hadn’t noticed the kids were in danger.
Meanwhile Winston was with the mom and the girl. He was attempting to calm them down and encouraged them lay back, to relax and allow the raft to keep their heads above water. He assured them he would stay with them and they would all be ok.
Because the tide was turning they were stuck in a stationary rip which was not flowing normally. Winston tried kicking right, left, forward, and backward with no luck. It became obvious he needed more help so I swam to shore and ran to get my phone.
When I ran up to our sun tent it startled my wife. She was deeply engrossed in her book, so much so she hadn’t noticed a thing! She asked what was going on? As I frantically searched for my phone I told her the about the riptide and pointed to Winston and the lady and child.
“Aren’t you overreacting?” she asked.
I thought, “Me, I never over react. Well, maybe occasionally.”
“No!” , I exclaimed as I found my phone and called 911.
A few minutes passed, then I heard the sirens approaching. Two groups of lifeguards arrived on their four wheelers. They ran and dove into the water and swam out to the people in trouble. Everyone was safely pulled to shore. The mother and little girl were extremely grateful we noticed.
A potentially deadly scene was quickly averted because there were two people who had been paying attention and decided to act.
From a spiritual point of view the rescue made me think of all the people in my sphere of influence who are drifting and in danger. The ocean we call life is flowing. Like the people in the riptide, many are stuck in life’s current and in danger of perishing. Most of the time they are living lives totally unaware of the danger. Unless they are noticed and reached by those of us who choose to leave the safety of our beach, they will perish.
The incident encouraged me to be determined to leave my safety zone and to continue seek and notice those who are away from God’s presence.
This scene happened very quickly and lasted probably less than ten minutes. I reflected and wondered:
Why didn’t other people notice?
Why didn’t they move to help?
Why did they sit still sipping their beer watching as the drama unfolded?
There is a psychological profile why some people respond and some don’t in such situations.
Apparently, few people are wired to be responders. Those who do respond usually have some sort of training or experience in their past that pushes them forward.
Winston is an accomplished swimmer and was a surfer in his 20’s living much of his life near the water. He had experienced the power of riptides, he knew the danger and how to escape and survive.
I recently had received some training in self defense and I had been actively seeking to improve my personal awareness, so I noticed the situation. Others like my wife are wired more passively. The good news, every person can be trained to notice people and situations and can develop a willingness to act, take a risk, and help those in distress. It is so important.
Guess where most people live?
Most people live in the unaware zone. They live life adrift on an ocean of routine, and live unaware / oblivious of their surroundings.
She screamed. He wrecked the car. She escaped.
A teacher in the Dayton area was recently abducted. Why? She was targeted because she was unaware.
She was texting while walking to her car and once in the car she continued to focus on her cell phone. The bad guy simply walked up and jerked open her door. He jumped in the driver’s side, pushed her into the passenger seat and took off with the now terrified lady.
She screamed. He wrecked the car and she managed to open the passenger side door and jumped out. The guy escaped but was later apprehended.
Had she been practicing awareness she would have put her phone in her purse before she left the store, looked around as she walked to her car and then locked the doors as soon as she got in her seat. The incident could have been averted if she had chosen to live her life from an awareness perspective.
Now she lives with the trauma of the frightening incident. However, she also decided to learn to become more aware of her space and just completed a conceal and carry course. She is now a smarter and wiser woman.
It’s hard to see something you are not
Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live life continually aware of God’s presence and what’s happening around you. Every believer should practice awareness and practice noticing the unnoticeable; then respond. I’m glad God has graciously been training, me, given me the eyes to see, and a heart that seeks to understand. I’m working on responding, acting on what I see, or sense.
Part two of two to follow.