Swim Between The Flags

To feel like you’re drowning is a terrible feeling

Story..

There are times in life when all of us will feel like we’re in over our heads, like we’re floundering, like we’re drowning. Perhaps we’ve been living life on the edge, and we’ve just toppled over. Other time we wade in far too deep for our capabilities. We take on too much. Other times the conditions all of a sudden become rough – maybe through loss, death, illness, trouble. Other times we’re travelling along fine through life, but something can cause us to doubt or panic.

Can you think of a time in your life when you’ve figuratively speaking felt like you were drowning? Where the situation was desperate?

In Aus – red & yellow capped lifesavers regular feature beaches summer. They patrol the beaches.

I was one once ….

Life savers primary role is to what? – To save!

Eqpt, training. Know the danger signs. Have a good vantage point – tower etc They can foresee trouble coming and warn.

But beaches large, coastline huge – can’t be everywhere. So what do they tell us to do? “Swim between the flags”. If you swim between flags, get into trouble, we will rescue you. If you swim between flags, we’ll let you know of potential dangers and keep you safe. We will keep you from trouble, and rescue you if you get into trouble. If you are outside the flags, we can’t give you the same guarantee. We might be able to save you, might not. The further away from the flags, the more you’re on your own.

Story of Esther – the Jewish people were in trouble. Desperate situation. The conditions had suddenly changed and their very lives were severely threatened……

The Jewish people needed a rescuer.

And the God that I worship, and the God that Mordecai worshipped, is a rescuer. Our God saves.

If you want to find God in the book of Esther, you’ll have to read between the lines. God is never mentioned by name throughout the book. Yet I believe that behind the scenes God was working.

Prompting Esther, nudging Mordecai, prodding the King.

God is a life-saver. He can foresee the danger, he warns us of impending trouble, and when we feel like we’re going to drown, God comes and lifts us up, rescues us, saves us.

Do you agree? Have you experienced that?

But God also says – Swim between the flags. What might that mean?

Well if you’re far from God, right away from His will and purpose for your life, I’m not sure how God can guarantee your rescue. I think swimming between the flags on God’s beach means being faithful to Him, doing our best to follow Jesus, striving to become more and more Christlike and in a deeper and more whole relationship with God Himself. I’m contending that the closer you are to God, the easier it is to rescue you. The further away you are from God, the more you’re on your own. Doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you – doesn’t mean doesn’t care as much about you as he cares about others, doesn’t mean God can’t rescue you or won’t rescue you – but I wonder if God has a set of flags up that say, stick in here and you’ll be OK. Press in close to God, lean into God, walk in His ways, on His path, seek after God – that’s all between the flag stuff.

Mordecai swam between the flags. He wouldn’t bow down and worship Haman – he would only bow down and worship God. Mordecai was an honest, humble, caring man. A God-fearing, faithful Jew. He swam between the flags.

Now you know that the waters between the flags still get rough, can still be treacherous, but the rescuer is there. Our lifesaver is there. Watching over us, watching out for us, warning us, guiding us – and ready to pluck us from the waters that might threaten to engulf us.

I used to deliberately swim outside the flags at the beach – I don’t need saving. I know what to do. I can handle it. Don’t need saving. Maybe maturity, maybe too many Bondi Rescue shows – I stick closer to the flags now. And that’s where I encourage our kids to swim too.

Be careful, because the currents of life can sweep us sideways pretty easily and take us out of that flag zone. It’s a good idea to line up with something in the shore, and keep that as your reference point, and make sure you’re lined up with that – and of course in a spiritual sense, that’s Jesus, and you make sure you’re staying in the zone through prayer and reading God’s Word and worshipping and fellowshipping with other Christians.

Challenge: Maybe like I used to be, you may be swimming somewhere near the flags – I guess if you were miles away you wouldn’t be here tonight – swimming outside the flags thinking, I don’t need rescuing. I won’t need saving. I can handle any conditions life throws up at me.

But you know, a Haman may one day walk into your life. The conditions in your life might suddenly and drastically change, and even the strongest swimmer can find themselves in trouble.

Maybe you’ve drifted out of the zone. Not enough attention to your soul condition. Lacking prayer, reading the Word, meeting with fellow Christians. Use Jesus as your marker, and move back between the flags.

I want to encourage you tonight to swim between the flags. We have a rescuer, a Saviour. Our God saves. He saved Isaac on the altar, saved Joseph from the deep cistern, saved the Israelite slaves in Egypt, saved King David’s life many times. Our God saves. The ultimate saving act was the gift of Jesus……

Draw closer to God, swim between the flags, and no matter what the conditions of life are like, God is watching over you, keeping you from trouble, keeping you afloat.




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