The Lifeguard

What a demanding week. Between triple digit temperatures wilting energy, gardens frying in the drought, and the debt debate churning fear about the economy, who isn’t ready for a break from daily burdens? That’s why I envied the neighbor’s two sons splashing with abandon in their pool while Dad watched from his deck beneath the shade of a large umbrella.

I envied that simpler time in life. I wanted to be ten years old again. During that summer, Mom let me walk six blocks from our house to join other kids for a swim in the neighborhood pool. She didn’t worry about my safety because the recreation center always posted a lifeguard — usually a tanned and muscled college jock who sat atop his tall chair for a birds-eye view of the pool and young swimmers.

The pool opened at 11:00 AM. Fifty kids waited for the lifeguard to unlock the gate and motion us in. Once we all found a place for our towels and flip-flops along the fence lining the pool, he blew his whistle. We stood at attention while he reviewed the rules.

“Walk, don’t run on the slick pavement, no diving into the shallow end and no horseplay like jumping off someone’s shoulders onto another swimmer. Got it?” His gaze circled the fence to catch the eyes of every child nodding agreement.

“Now, pair up with a ‘buddy’ who you’ll stand beside at the half hour breaks.” I grabbed my friend’s hand. “When you hear three short blasts from my whistle, clear the pool and stand with your ‘buddy.’ We’ll number off to be sure we account for everyone.”

With that, the lifeguard blew his whistle, and fifty pairs of legs raced to jump into the waiting water. During the next two hours, amid splashing, shrill giggles and cannonballs off the diving board, I heard an occasional tweet of the lifeguard’s whistle as he pointed to rule breakers, “Slow down…No shoving…Stop clowning around.”

“Hey, quit that.” The dad next door broke my train of thought. He stood at the edge of his pool, without a whistle but pointing to his oldest son. “Stop roughhousing. You’ll hurt your brother,” he demanded. Just like my neighborhood lifeguard reminded us when we were doing something hurtful to ourselves or others. Just like the Father reminds His

Although the prophet Isaiah warned Judah and Israel about the consequences of their sinful ways, he also delivered a message of consolation and hope as he unfolded God’s promise of future blessings through the Messiah. In a time when evil had the upper hand, Isaiah reminded his listeners that God goes before them to prepare the way, protects them as they travel through challenging times, and guards the rear as they march toward eternity with Him.

Isaiah’s words still apply today. The Lord  is our life-guard. He even paired us with a “buddy,” His only Son, to ensure we’re accounted for and arrive safely through difficulties
—even searing heat, droughts and national debt. Knowing that, I’ll jump back into life’s pool and swim with abandon.

“…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:12, NIV)

©2011 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.




About Gloria Ashby

I'm a writer, speaker and teacher. I live with my husband in the DFW area, and close to our daughter and her family.
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