One day there is a man in the sea. Far out at sea actually, there is no land in sight. He can’t remember how he got there. Maybe he fell or slipped? Maybe he was pushed? Washed out to sea as he took a harmless paddle, or did he jump in? He can’t remember, but he reckons it was probably his fault, though he can think of many others to blame.
But so what! – he is in the sea now! And to be honest, once you’re in it, it doesn’t matter how he got there.
And it’s not exactly calm. The waves are getting higher by the day and it’s not warming up either. He has been in the sea for quite a long time. Probably for as long as he can remember, but only now does he begin to realize that it might be a problem.
Did I mention he’s not on his own? There is quite a large number of drowners out there, with quite a good camaraderie going. Until one drowns and it soon becomes all too clear that no matter how much fun you have, how much people look out for each other, you still drown. You drown. Period.
Anyway, back to our man in the sea. You can probably picture him by now: Continuously treading water to stay afloat, waves splashing over his head, every now and then he swallows water, spits and coughs. And slowly but surely a slight panic takes hold of him.
Then a lifeboat. You know the kind. Big and strong, waves and rough seas are no match for them. A sure sign that help has arrived and safety is but minutes away.
The crew approaches the man and, this being a strange kind of story, you decide what happens next. Choose one of the following options.
Our friend looks at the lifeboat but concludes it is a figment of his own imagination. Wishful thinking. There is no such thing as lifeboats. They are an invention of those who cannot cope with the sea, the waves – and the drowning.
Knowing that it takes quite some guts to admit the need to be rescued, and humbly accept a ride on the lifeboat, the crew try to convince the man that they are indeed on a lifeboat, that they themselves were once in the sea and have been rescued. But he argues his case vigorously. They are deluded and are in fact still in the sea, because “lifeboats are a figment of your imagination” – that was the last thing the crew heard as he popped up between the waves a final time.
“Thank you, I’m quite alright!”, the man shouts to the approaching crew. “I’m managing fine myself, lifeboats aren’t for everyone. I’m glad it works for you, but I’ll figure out something myself.”
The crew try to persuade him to grab one of the lifelines. “I appreciate your efforts, but I am not a believer in lifeboats myself. I am not a lifeboat-type of person. Thanks, but no thanks!”
Next the crew throw a life ring. Finally the man loses his rag. “Look!”, he shouts, “leave me alone. I told you I don’t do lifeboats, alright? Stop twisting my arm and go away. I know you type of people, trying to brainwash everyone onto your lifeboats. Doesn’t work with me, so just take your lifeboat and stick...” the crew couldn’t quite understand the last few words as the waves took the man under.
He is so glad that a lifeboat has finally reached him. He has heard a great deal about them and is keen to explore the idea further. “Hang on, hang on! Not so fast!” he shouts as the crew cast a lifeline to him. “I’m not quite ready for that yet. What kind of a lifeboat is this anyway?”
It’s not the first time the crew has encountered a drowner with many questions before agreeing to be rescued – in fact many crewmembers had questions and most still have questions now – so they answer, or try to answer, each question with patience and understanding. Every further rescue attempt gets halted as the man quizzes the crew as to the origin of the sea, the somewhat questionable history of the lifeboat-crew, the legitimacy of their rescue attempts, what about other lifeboats, and why on earth there are people still drowning even though there is a lifeboat. Unfortunately the man was unable to hear the answer to the last question...
“Life is life! It’s fate that I’m here and that is quite alright. There is nothing wrong with being in the sea, you know. I am alright. I am making the most of it, I have a few friends around me, a few possessions in my pocket and I even help some of my colleagues every now and again. Now I am here, and when I’m gone – I’m gone.
Having heard this many times before the crew pulls in the lifeline saddened. No one can be rescued if they don’t see the need to be rescued. They will try again in a few weeks.
This is the boring option. The man sees the lifeline, grabs it, but before he lets himself be pulled on board he stops and enquires: “Hang on, how much is this going to cost me?” Fair question! “Everything!” the crew responds. “Everything?” the man replies slightly shocked, “That’s a lot. But considering that I’m about to lose everything any day, it’s a fair price. Can I pay by card?”
“Sorry, we don’t accept card payments, you pay by life!” – “By life???” he replies even more shocked!” – “Yes, you pay with your life as you board, but you get a new one immediately. Brand new and dry. One with purpose, meaning and without end!” - “That’s more than fair!” he says delighted as he grabs the lifeline, gets pulled on board and is rescued.
These days he works as a crewmember himself.
If you still can’t decide – I understand. It’s a tough decision. So many options.
Just a final thought: at the end of the day there are in fact only 2 choices – forget 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. You either drown or let yourself be rescued. That’s it.
Actually, that’s not quite true. Once you are rescued the options are endless...
"Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved!”