Scripture: Galatians 1:1-10
Observation: Paul begins his writings to the Galatians by introducing himself, greeting them, and then warning them against the danger of believing or promoting any other gospel but the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Application: Every summer, my family would pack up and head down to Rehoboth Beach in early August for a final getaway before school started. When we were old enough, my parents bought us each boogey boards so we could spend our afternoons riding in wave after wave.
Admittedly, I wasn’t a great boogey boarder – I was timid and non-adventurous by nature, so I’d normally hesitate a few seconds before deciding whether or not to ride in a wave. Those few seconds can make or break you – you’re either in (going with the wave) or you’re out (you swim out a little farther to wait for the next one). The one thing you don’t want to be? Paralyzed while deciding what to do.
One fateful afternoon, I waited a few seconds too long to decide what I wanted to do, so the ocean decided for me. While I hesitated, a wave scooped me up – I was completely unprepared – and all of the sudden, I was underneath a wave, drinking seawater, spinning around, and completely disoriented. I honestly thought I was drowning; every time I tried to come up for air, another wave pummeled me, and I was forced back down into the water. Eventually, I found my way to shore, coughing and bruised (and mostly just embarrassed).
Drowning is a terrifying feeling. Every effort to surface for air seems thwarted by another wave of pressure pulling you down, and you’re left hoping that someone – anyone – can come and save you because you can’t save yourself.
We’ve all had a moment where we’re feeling like we’re drowning – drowning in our own poor decisions, in a hard relationship, in our negative attitude, in our unfavorable circumstances. Every effort we make to fix, mend, forgive, and change seems thwarted. It’s only when we realize we can’t save ourselves that we find true salvation.
“Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” (v. 4)
Jesus came to rescue us from the sin that we were drowning in. When we put our faith in him, the waves can no longer pummel us, our sin can no longer enslave us, our relationships can no longer define us. He is our buoy, our lifeline, our anchor.
I love those words; they’re encouraging and affirming. But when I look at my life, I act like I’m still drowning. I’m acting like I’m on my own, still suffocating in circumstances that feel like they’ll never change, in bad habits and attitudes I just can’t seem to shake, in relationships that don’t provide the affirmation I so desperately desire. I’m fighting back, trying to muster up my own strength to be better, to do better, to pray more and worry less, to find some resolve deep within me to change what feels impossible to change.
In these moments, I realize I’m drowning myself. My lack of trust, my foolish belief that I can manage on my own, my constant desire to be accepted by the world around me – they’re paralyzing, and they separate me from the One who already came to save me. When I am ready to surface for air, when I come to the realization that I can never save myself no matter how hard I fight, I’m met with overwhelming peace, realizing that I was safe all along.
I want to live rescued – when things are bad and good and just so-so. I want to live rescued – when I get what I want and when I don’t. I want to live rescued – when I’m comfortable and when I’m stretched and every moment in between.
Jesus came so we would never have to drown again. “All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.” (v.5)
Prayer: God, thank you for sending your son Jesus to save us from our sins, to rescue us from the rat race of human striving. I pray we’ll grow in faith and trust, that we’ll live rescued, relying on you alone in every situation. Amen.