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Mar 4, 2006

But I didn’t do anything . . .

"I decided to keep silent and see what happened next." 
 RECORD, March 4, 2006

I feel a little guilty. I’m not sure if I should; you be the judge.

One day this summer I was at the beach with my wife, doing some bodyboarding.
I had noticed the tide coming in and every so often a larger wave would come closer to our shade tent on the shore. After a while, I grew nervous for our belongings on the beach so headed back while my wife continued in the surf a little longer.
I proceeded to build four ankle-high sand walls with my feet, making a semi-circle around the front of our shade tent. I figured if I could protect the tent from the first wave that reached it I would have enough time to move our things before the next big wave came.
I noticed a woman laying down a towel nearby, then lying on her stomach, feet toward the ocean, and commencing to read a large novel.
Sitting in my tent, secure behind my sand fortress, I spied the next “big” wave. It hit, flowing over my first, second and third walls and then proceeded to flow alongside the fourth and final wall, kind of like parting the Red Sea, until the wave ran out of splash and headed out to sea to gather more resources for another assault.
With only one wall left standing, and not enough time to rebuild, I knew I had to evacuate. I collected our belongings, pulled down the shade tent and headed further up the beach. Now, happily perched with hat and sunglasses on, I sat once more watching my wife out in the surf.
I noticed the wave that forced me to move had stopped just short of the toes of the lady next to me. She was now asleep—the novel must not have been as engrossing as the back cover undoubtedly promised.
Here came my dilemma. I had no doubt the next big wave would reach this woman but she was oblivious to the warnings of the previous waves coming closer.
Considering no permanent harm would be done, I decided to keep silent and see what happened next. I didn’t have long to wait. Not only did the next big wave arrive, this one had extra reach. I gritted my teeth with nervousness, and then whooshhh! In less than a second, the wave engulfed her, from her toes to her shoulders.
I was keeping the best poker face I could, watching out of the corner of my glasses, not wanting to add embarrassment to the situation by her knowing she had an audience, who might ultimately end up publishing the story in a magazine!
After retrieving her sandals that had floated away, she wrung out her towel and headed home.
So to my question: should I have said something beforehand? “Excuse me, Miss, I believe you should stop reading and move to higher ground.”
I was too shy. What would she think of me coming up and disturbing her sleep? What if she rejected my warning and rudely told me to mind my own business? What if a burly, lifeguard-type boyfriend/husband came and took exception to me talking to “his woman”?
By not telling her, I wasn’t actually doing anything wrong, was I? Surely I can’t be held responsible. She should have been more careful. It’s not my fault I knew what was going to happen and she didn’t. Anybody else walking past could have told her.
Should I have said something? Would you have?
Comparing this to our faith. Do you openly share your faith in conversations at work, with your sporting friends or craft class who may not be aware of sin’s consequence and its cure. Do it! Don’t be afraid to speak. The Holy Spirit will lead and even translate if needed. There is no duty assigned to you from our God that is more important then sharing his love. And, as Peter put it, “Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” (1 Peter 3:15, The Message).
A sobering thought comes from Ellen White regarding the day of Jesus’ return, when our friends and neighbours turn to us and say: “We did not know about these things. Why did you leave us in ignorance? . . . Now we are lost!” (Reflecting Christ, page 243).
Seize every opportunity. Each could be the last!
 
[Children's story alternate ending ]
 
Now here’s some questions for you.
Do you think I should have gone over and said something to the lady?
Would that have been the loving thing to do?
Did Jesus ask us to be loving to other people?

I thought I was too shy.
I was worried she might not believe me,
or might be rude to me for interrupting her sleep.
I thought it was much easier to do nothing.
But that wasn’t loving my neighbor, as Jesus askes us to do.

Someone asked Jesus what is the best thing we can do. What is the greatest rule to follow.
He said, Love god with all your heart, first, and second, Love your neighbor. – That’s the greatest things we can do.

So this is where us adults sometimes need YOUR help.
Every now and then you’re going to see someone that needs some help that the adults might not have noticed or might even be shy to go and help.

Whenever you see someone that needs help, make sure you encourage your mum or dad by asking, “can we go and help that person? Just like Jesus asked us to?”
And if it’s safe to do so, hopefully they’ll say yes.
So remember Jesus said to love him and those around us,
and helping people is loving people.
Ok, you can surf back to your seats now.
 

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