A Drowning Person Needs a Rescuer

Posted: July 14, 2013 in Discipleship, Evangelism, Missions, Pastoral Ministry


According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, every day about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the U.S. But I want to expose at least one huge misconception about drowning. Many people assume that a drowning person will splash, yell, and wave for help. After all, if you feared that you were drowning, wouldn’t you do whatever you could get let someone know?

Actually, drowning is far from obvious. A report from The Journal of U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue has identified the “Instinctive Drowning Response.” When someone is drowning, the person will instinctively display the following five characteristics:

1. Except in rare cases, drowning people are physically unable to call for help. God has designed us to breathe first and speak later.
2. Drowning people cannot stay above the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call for help.
3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. They are forced to extend their arms laterally and press down on the waters’ surface.
4. Drowning people cannot voluntarily move toward a rescuer or reach out for a piece of rescue equipment.
5. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water for 20 to 60 seconds before sinking.

The Coast Guard emphasizes that the Instinctive Drowning Response is triggered by a host of autonomic nervous system responses. In other words, it is completely involuntary, unlearned, and unavoidable.

My reason for bringing this to you has very little to do with swimming safety. Don’t get me wrong! Please make wise choices with regards to going to the beach or to the pool this summer! But I want to help us make a spiritual connection. People who are “drowning” emotionally, relationally, financially, or spiritually have a similar Instinctive Drowning Response. In other words, they often do not know how to cry for help, and unless rescued by another, they will continue to sink.

Every person has the same need. We all need salvation, and we are helpless to save ourselves. Everyone needs a Savior, and only Jesus Christ can provide the salvation each of us needs.

God loves you, and He wants you to come to know Him personally through Jesus. However, sin separates you from God, and while you may attempt to get to God through your efforts and good works, they all fall short. Jesus is the only way – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). You receive Jesus through faith by admitting your sin, turning from your way of thinking and living, believing that Jesus died for you on the cross, and giving Christ the control of your life.

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