The Boy on the Beach

Imprint of Life

Imprint of Life

The horror of finding a drowned boy on a beach is more than a news headline to me. The recent ‘news’ photograph of a dead refugee child on a beach brought back awful memories for me.

Some years ago I was on holiday with family and friends and we went swimming in a lake on a hot day. The beach was developed for leisure and the section of the lake for swimming was partitioned off with a cable and floats. In fact many swimmers would swim out the 15 metres or so to the cable and hang onto it as a resting place. Children paddled on the sandy shore and older kids played on inflatables. Towards the end of the afternoon many families retreated to their BBQ and snacks. I took that opportunity to swim in the freed up expanse of water. As I did I became aware of a young man calling out across the water. I was immediately concerned: Calling to people from the shore is fine when there are people swimming or floating, but the lake was empty. I asked the young man what he was doing and he said he was looking for his cousin. I asked if the missing lad could swim, to which the reply was no. I raised the alarm and shouted to people to start looking in the adjacent woods in case he had wondered off that way. I then swam back and forth underwater urgently looking – knowing that every moment might be a matter of life or death. As I searched I hoped that I was over-reacting and that the boy would wander out of the woods any minute. Within minutes as I swam and stared through the murky lake water I saw a sight which will never leave my memory, the motionless submerged body of a young man.

With all my strength I hauled him up to the surface and held him afloat while trying to get to shore and shout for help at the same time. I dragged the heavy limp lad onto the dry sand and yelled for help. My friend took over with attempted mouth to mouth resuscitation. Although he, and then the paramedics, tried for a while, this was unsuccessful.

As I stood next to the lifeless boy, while every effort was made to revive him, I prayed, and asked God what this was about and why it had happened. I was painfully conscious that I, a strong swimmer, had been near this tragedy for the whole time. I felt God speak to me in that intense moment. The gist of what I heard was, ‘Many give the impression of being able to swim, and lack of accountability leaves them in danger of death.’

Accountability is not about someone being in control of us – but a relationship which guides and ultimately protects.

It seems that this young guy had probably worked his way along the cable – well out of his depth – and lost his grip. He must have thought it unlikely that he might let go of the cable – but one slip was deadly.

Lack of real relationships means that many in our disconnected world are giving the impression of being able to swim in life – but can’t really. Many are in mortal danger. Many know the language of knowing God and his salvation, but may be in danger of slipping off at any moment. Many act confidently but are disconnected and unsupported. In a world of flimsy connections on Facebook and Snapchat we  all need to ask whether we are in right relationships – life giving relationships.

If one person had asked that young man if he could swim; if one person had been watching when he slipped; I could have been that person and he might well be living life to the full right now. We are all accountable for those around us.

Imprint of life upon life

Imprints of Many Lives

The Bible says that ‘Righteousness exalts a nation” (Proverbs 14:34) William Barclay translated the word ‘Righteousness’ as ‘Right Relationships’. God calls us to righteousness – let us pursue a right relationship with Him – which is possible through Jesus, and promote right relationships all around us – for the sake of life!

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One Response to “The Boy on the Beach”

  1. Greg Reagan Says:

    Wow, John. What an awesome message and analogy, and what an incredibly painful memory at the same time. Kelly and I are sitting in our chairs in the living room spending what Kelly affectionally calls “Poppa Time;” one-on-one time with God, but in the same room so we can share what we hear form God with one another. After reading your blog, I then read it aloud to kelly, and drew the analogy of how we can keep each other form drowning…..actually, how are ARE keeping each other from drowning and the assurance that if we keep an eye on each other as do the things we think we can do that perhaps we really can’t, that we can save one another and our marriage together.

    I wish I had time to tell you all that the Lord has been doing in my and Kelly’s life together. Maybe we can Skype one day and catch up. Love to you, Marie and the family.

    Greg ******************************************************** Gregory T. Reagan, CPA, CFE, CVA, ABV, CFF President Reagan Accounting & Consulting Group, P.C. 217 Country Club Park, Box 604 Birmingham, Alabama 35213 Phone: 205-994-1502 E-mail: Website: LinkedIn – ****************************************************** LEGAL NOTICE: This electronic mail message, and any attachments transmitted with it, contains privileged and confidential information, intended only for the named addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient or the person responsible for delivering this email, you are hereby notified that any use, distribution, copying or disclosure of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please immediately notify the sender by reply email, and delete all copies of this communication from your computer and network.


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