When my wife and I were dating as teenagers, one summer we visited Charleston, SC with her family. While there we decided to go to the beach for a day. Our quest for sand and sun landed us at the beautiful Folly Beach.
As we walked along the shore looking for the perfect spot to lay our towels and get our feet wet we happened upon a rather unique place. There was a small pier that extended about 20 feet into the water; at the end of the pier there was a long stretch of rocks that reached out into the ocean for 30 yards or so.
It was a beautiful place. Watching the seagulls perch on the rocks and seeing the waves crash against the boulders with such force was magnificent. However, what we failed to notice was the warning signs just beyond the pier that read: “No Swimming Near the Rocks – Strong Currents.” So, without question, we laid down our towels and off we went into the water.
It didn’t take but a few minutes to realize that we were up against a powerful force. The flow of water rushing to the shore and the descending back along the rocks created a current that none of us were prepared to contend with. We began swimming with all our might. I’m a strong swimmer, yet found myself quickly fatigued as I worked against this raging body of water. When I finally made it to shore I buckled over in exhaustion and looked around. I quickly noticed Heather’s uncle and some others were standing beside me also exhausted from fighting the strength of the current.
As I began scanning for Heather I realized that she wasn’t there. My heart started pounding. I turned my face back toward the ocean and the rocks. I didn’t see her. Panic set in. As I gazed out into the water, finally I spotted her. She had drifted out beyond the end of the rocks (that’s a long way). She was bobbing up and down and screaming for her life.
Without thought, I immediately dove back into the water and swam to her aid. After attempting to calm her down, I said, “Heather the only way we’re going to get back to shore is to swim to the rocks and climb back to the beach.” That was the plan: to trek across a row of rocks that seemed impossible to navigate. Upon making it to the edge of the last boulder, I climbed up and then reached down to pull her up until she had footing.
I began directing a path while also holding her up with one arm. As we attempted to walk on those boulders the waves would crash against us with such force that we would fall down to our knees. Over and over again we fell, and over and over again the pain was agonizing as the barnacles on the rocks gashed our feet, knees, and elbows. I tried to hold her with one arm and balance with the other. Imagine climbing a mountain in a tropical storm. I kept saying “Come on Heather, don’t quit!”
After what seemed like an eternity, finally we made it to the pier. I carried her on my back as blood ran down our arms and legs. When we jumped down into the blazing hot sand I realized how deep some of my cuts actually were. As the salt and sand entered the slashes on our feet and legs we cried out. However, mixed with the pain was also a sigh of relief because we knew we were safe. I carried Heather on my back to the car, laid her in the backseat, and drove to the closest emergency room.
Folly Beach was a painful, yet meaningful experience. Sometimes life is like a raging sea. There are times in all of our lives when we feel like the waves are crashing against us, the current is more than we can handle, and the sharp jagged edges are wounding us deeply. Sometimes things are so difficult to navigate that it feels like it would be easier to give up than to keep going. Don’t.
No matter how hard it gets… just don’t. Cast your eyes toward the shore. Stand firm on the Rock of our Salvation. Never give up. Keep going. Jesus will lead you safe to shore. It won’t always be easy. In fact, Jesus never said it would be easy, but he did say that it would be worth it.
Ironically, the only way to discover the power to never give up is to give up everything. That’s the paradox of it all. We must surrender everything to God and become completely dependent on Him in order to find the strength to keep going. He alone will provide the strength you need. Always remember, with God, if you do not quit you cannot lose.
One day the violent waves are going to become peaceful. One day the jagged edges will be made smooth. One day the forceful current will flow with peace. One day we will sit on the shore and gaze upon the calm waters with certain assurance that we are safe. Until that day comes keep climbing on the rocks and holding each other up, knowing all the while that your feet are firmly planted in Him.