I read that ahead of this year’s expected and exceptional summer season, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is asking for more recruits to consider wearing the red and yellow uniform of a lifeguard to help the charity keep people safe on beaches and save lives.
Carl Harris, from the RNLI is quoted as saying: “I think working as a lifeguard has got to be one of Britain’s best summer jobs. It is incredible to be able to call the beach your office but far more importantly than that, you are there to make sure the public enjoy it in the safest possible way.”
Last year RNLI lifeguards alone rescued 2,082 people across the UK and Jersey and saved 127 lives. Who can doubt the importance of doing such a worthwhile job?
Interestingly Mr. Harris also states that the ongoing day to day training necessary is given only after the final beachgoers have left for home and that the lifeguards themselves are assigned to their stations early morning before any beach users arrive for the day. That makes good sense because you don’t want lifeguards training and discussing their day’s duties when the beach is buzzing. You want your lifeguard up where they ought to be, in their high chair, focussed on the water and looking out for swimmers in difficulty. One family whose son nearly drowned on a popular beach at Camber Sands which draws up to 25,000 visitors a day in the height of the summer, was extremely grateful to the lifeguard who spotted him in trouble, plunged in, and got him to safety just in time. “It’s a good thing they were there and were not having a lifeguard meeting at the time,” said the grateful family.
“Here is a trustworthy saying,” says Paul to his young apprentice Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners” (1Timothy 1:15). Those who know Christ are God’s lifeguards. It surely follows that we who follow the Saviour must seek to be soul winners ourselves.
At Westminster Abbey in London, for over a thousand years they have buried some of those perceived to be the greatest people of British history. Kings and queens of all those centuries are buried there as well as some literary and music greats. Just this week they interned the ashes of Professor Stephen Hawkins! But only one missionary is buried there. Only one whose goal it was to reach others with the gospel. “To bring the sheep not yet of His sheep pen” as (John 10:16) states it and which is written on the tombstone of David Livingstone, who sacrificed the comforts of his homeland to go and give his life to bring hope in our Saviour Christ to the continent of Africa.
We don’t necessarily have to go to Africa or to any foreign mission field to be soul winners for Christ. We are surrounded at work, in school, and in our neighbourhood by sheep not in the sheep pen yet. Who don’t know Jesus the Shepherd who said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.”
Lifeguards are what we might better be called today. Those assigned to rescue other dying people as those once in need of rescue themselves. The danger is that we simply stay in our lifeguard station – “Church” – and have our lifeguard meetings, sing our lifeguard songs, offer our lifeguard offerings, and check our lifeguard equipment, yet forget to go to the beach where the people who most need us are.
Meeting together for encouragement and equipping is vital. Mission is never fruitful when we are not faithful in our meeting but we have to go out from the safety and the comfort of our lifeguard station to plunge into the surf to bring Jesus to someone? We can’t settle for just feeding ourselves in the lifeguard station while people are drowning and dying in the sea of their godless existence.
Our Saviour’s magnificent obsession was people who were not saved yet. Please God that we all have that passion in our heart? Let us be strengthened in our faith through our lifeguard meetings but let us never forget that lifeguards are needed at the beach! There are those desperate to be beach body ready for a summer at the seaside, but my hope is that as followers of Jesus, we’re truly soul alert.
Your Friend and Pastor