Our help comes from the Lord—the Lord who guards life. Our help comes from the Lord who protects our lives. Our protector does not sleep, so he is always alert to the times when we need help. Like the lifeguard who grabs the buoy, poised to run into the water, so the Lord stands ready to run to the rescue of his children.
Last summer I saw a lifeguard rescue someone from the ocean. The lifeguards had posted signs, as is customary, informing swimmers of that day’s rip current risk level. On this day, the risk was moderate, so there was reason to be cautious. The lifeguards had put cones in the sand permitting people to swim only between the cones, presumably so they could keep a close watch over everyone.
I was sitting close to the lifeguard station, so I saw the scene play out. I first noticed the two lifeguards watching a middle-aged man who was on the edge of the area swimmers were supposed to stay within. He looked to be enjoying himself but was soon swimming beyond the designated area. One lifeguard blew his whistle at the man, and when they got his attention, they both gestured for him to swim back within the cone area. The man didn’t follow this direction. The lifeguards kept their eyes on him. The waves were big, and he continued to swim. He was moving farther away from shore and farther outside the posted area. The whistle sounded again. The gestures were made again. But there was no movement in the right direction. All of a sudden, the swimmer looked like he was no longer leisurely swimming; his arms started to flail. The female lifeguard grabbed her rescue buoy. They watched him struggle for a few seconds, his movements decreasing as he endured the pounding of the next wave. It became clear: he needed help. “Go!” the male lifeguard said to his coworker. She ran into the water—and brought this man safely back to shore.
Though it all ended well, it was frightening to witness. As is helpful and necessary after an unsettling event, I continued to process what I had seen in the days that followed. This young lifeguard—she couldn’t have been older than twenty—headed into danger in order to rescue someone out of it. This moved me. On that day, she courageously embodied her title: she guarded life—an actual life! I had a new appreciation for the job, and couldn’t stop thinking about the title: lifeguard. Life guard.
Though I thought a lot about lifeguards, I found myself relating to that swimmer. There had been signs on display.