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Beach Warning Flags

You have planned a day at the beach. The sun shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. You have your beach chair and umbrella, sunscreen, your favorite book, and a cooler with food and drink. Once you arrive, you see the beach lined with yellow flags. These flags are parts of a standardized warning system used by coastal communities to notify beachgoers of potential water hazards. The most common beach warning flags are green, yellow, or red, indicating low, medium or high hazard. A double red flag means that the ocean is closed to swimmers. And did you know that a dark blue or purple flag indicates the presence of dangerous marine life, so unless you are want to star in the next “Jaws” movie, stay out of the water.

In addition to warning flags, many beach resorts have lifeguards to maintain beach safety and rescue swimmers who are in danger. Even with lifeguards and warning flags to notify you of the potential water hazards, you still need to always be aware of the surf conditions because of the unpredictability of the water and the waves. The tide comes in then in goes out. The water isn’t even up to your knees then all of a sudden it is over your head. One wave gently tosses you around and you are having fun. But the next wave, it is a really big one, and the force of the water flips you upside down, pounds you into the ocean floor and you come up wondering why the lifeguard did not warn you of the rough seas. And besides, the flag was yellow indicating only a medium hazard. Rip currents are not always easily detected by beachgoers but they can be one of the ocean’s deadliest dangers.

Life can be the same way. One minute things are calm and peaceful and then without notice a big wave (or two or three or four) comes and turns life upside down. You sometimes lose your breath and find yourself disoriented from all the pounding you are taking. You feel as if you are being pulled further and further from shore.

The Bible tells us that when, from your vantage point, things seem out of control that God has things under control and He can calm the waves in your life. Psalm 89:9 tells us this, “You rule over the surging sea; when the waves mount up, you still them.” We see a similar message in Psalm 107:29, “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.”

Sometimes God calms the waves and other times He calms you in the midst of the waves. Either way, regardless of the color of the flag, you can always trust that God is in the lifeguard chair!

Dave Garrett

New Bern, North Carolina


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