Just 3 days ago, I was at the beach with my daughter, Avery, who is working on her surfing. Specifically, her take off and bottom turns. The sea was rough, and some of the waves were powerful. It was creating a riptide that I could feel tugging me out and we had drifted about 200 yards north of our towels. As we got out of the water, I noticed a group of teenage friends entering the water, but didn’t think much about it. They were loud, laughing and obviously having fun.
About 10 minutes later as we were gathering our things to go home, I noticed that some of the laughing or yelling seemed to be different and looked out at the ocean. I could see the girls and at this point could clearly hear them yell, “Help!” and “Mom!” Of course it was more like, “Hhheeeelllp!” and “Mmoooooommm!” A couple of them were waving their arms, and one of them was clutching her bodyboard in a death grip.
I told Avery, to stay at the chair as I took off my shirt and ran to the edge of the water, still not sure if they needed help or were playing. As I got closer to them I noticed it was more grim than I thought as they were being pummeled by the waves and there now included a dad trying to help his two young sons. He stared at me, begging me to help him.
Jumping to the point, I was able to help 5 of the folks out of the surf and 3 of them were able to self rescue. As we made our way in, 2 lifeguard trucks rolled up, but missed the excitement. There were also about 20 people at the water’s edge and another 100 that were oblivious to what had just happened. No one came to help me.
It got me thinking how easy it is between set waves…to slowly drift into positions where there is danger. Things can seem normal, even serene, until we find ourselves over our heads. We need help minimally and maybe need rescue.
It’s probably generalizing, but having been involved in university ministry for 20 years I’ve seen students sent to college like they’ve reached some invisible finish line. Lots of input and investment in their lives for the previous 18 years, yet now they are sent into the world with a hope that the foundation has been set. “What else can we do?” There can be the unintended message, “I’ve done my part, now you’re on your own.” There is hope that they will stay connected to the faith or values they grew up with. A hope that as they face the next few years…years that are foundational…years that include incredibly critical decisions…they will have the resources or communities to help them make great choices. Often though, they are alone. Culture, like a riptide, starts to tug. Starts to pull. Soon, firm footing is gone. They are drifting. Clutching onto anything for life, unable to yell for help. Embarrassed about where they’ve come. Fear of where they will end up.
Wendy and I have a passion to see folks reorient and live life on track with how they are created. Twentysomethings are changing the world and we are excited to connect with more of them; to hear their stories and encourage new steps of faith. Nobody intends to drift.