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Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
By Paul Servini
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“How on earth could she do anything so stupid? I'd saved her. She could live. She wanted to live. She'd promised me, she would learn to live.”
His mind went back to that moment some 24 hours earlier when he had pulled her out of the sea. What he had not known then was that this had been no accident. She had actually tried to kill herself. Only a miracle had enabled him to rescue her.
Joe couldn't blame her for wanting to kill herself. He had tried to imagine the desperation that could push a young girl of her age to this last finite act. He had wanted to try and encourage her, give her hope, tell her how much God loved her. But as he saw her lying there, so helpless and needy, he just couldn't find the words to say. Instead he just smiled.
He had visited Pamela again a few hours later. That was when he had extracted the promise from her, not to try to kill herself again. “Life is beautiful”, he had said, and she had returned the smile he had given on their first meeting. But such clichés were not enough and Joe knew it. He had tried to cobble together something more substantial, but not being a man of many words all he had thought of seemed pathetically insufficient. And then, before he even had the chance to go and see her again she had made another attempt on her life. That was too much for Joe.
Reaching his goal he almost continued right past the alcove. He was surprised at his own pace. If he managed a time like that at next week's national trials, he would undoubtedly make the selection. He lay down on the hard ground, taking in the salt air in deep gulps. This was better than any anaesthetic. His body relaxed, the lava cooled and settled. Doubtless, it would one day seethe again through his veins on another occasion seeking that one point of weakness, but for now he was safe. He calmly went through the events of that day, and his mind fixed upon his Bible reading that morning. Slowly but surely uneasiness crept over him as he realised how easy it was to turn one’s back on God in a similar fashion.
He had read how God had not only forgiven our sin and taken our punishment upon himself, but also how he had freed us from sin's power. These words had eaten deep into him. True, he was not a great sinner; no murders, bank robberies, promiscuous flings – nothing like that. Yet, there were those small compromises, those sins he had tried to rationalise. And as he lay there, it slowly dawned on him that he had done exactly the same as the girl he had saved. He'd accepted God's gracious gift of life but then turned his back again saying: “Thanks for saving me, but you know, I much preferred things as they were.” In so doing he had jumped back into the raging waters from which God had just pulled him out.
In the minutes that followed Joe poured his heart out to God. It was as if the alcove he was in was struck by an earthquake as God’s presence came over the few square meters of ground where he now knelt. God poured all his compassion into that stony heart, just as it was moved to plead for Pamela in a way he had never imagined possible. All the bitterness and frustration he had felt was gone, as he began to see the way God saw. A new resolve came over him. Compassion not words were called for now.
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