Sorry, folks, but as you read this, I'll be on vacation. As in sticking my toes in the ocean accompanied by all my grandchildren. I love the ocean almost as much as I love my grandkids, so I know I'm having a great time!
My father loved the ocean, too. One vacation we found ourselves frolicking in the waves at Cocoa Beach, Florida. We dove under the waves, chased each other on the beach and slammed each other in the head with beach balls.
I decided to take a break from all that frivolity and climbed on one of those inflatable air mattresses. I paddled out beyond where the waves were breaking and stretched out, floating and relaxing. I relaxed so much that I fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, I heard someone shouting my name. I looked up and all I could see was water. I turned to the left. Water. To the right. More water. I paddled enough to turn my little raft around. My family was standing on the shore, yelling my name. Only the shore was a lot farther away than it should have been, and my family seemed to get farther away every second.
I realized immediately that I was being towed out to sea by the tide. I started to panic, until I saw Dad waving his arms around in a weird kind of way. He was motioning for me to paddle my way back to shore. I started paddling, watching my Dad and matching my strokes to his. He kept up paddling the air long after the rest of my family lost interest in my plight and dispersed.
This was hard work, so I stopped paddling for a minute and put my head down. Over the sound of my heavy breathing, I could hear Dad. "Don't stop! Keep paddling. Look at me. Keep your eyes on me." I looked up, and there he was, still paddling the air over his head. So, I started paddling again.
When I finally caught a ride on a wave, he cheered and ran through the breaking water to lift me right off that air mattress.
I made it back to shore that day because of one thing: I never took my eyes off my father. I found the strength I needed when I looked at him.
Hebrews 12:2-3 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
No matter what your situation, no matter how far from shore, no matter how strong the pull of the tides of sin, Jesus is there, watching, waiting. He already took our load of guilt and sin to the cross. He won the battle for us. Don't grow weary. Don't lose heart.
Just keep your eyes on Jesus.