By Christian Jagitsch
As a summer camp lifeguard this past summer, I learned an extremely valuable and life-changing lesson. People don’t call for help. I remember being on break one day during camp meeting. I was casually floating in the deep end when, only about 6 feet away from me, a young girl started fighting to stay above water. She was actively drowning meaning that she was conscious but severely struggling. I was looking in the other direction and did not see her. She was totally silent. Fortunately, I was able to get to her after her mother called out to me. Another time, a girl cracked her rib and split her lip on the side of the pool. She quietly clung to the edge and did absolutely nothing.
These two situations left me in shock. Why would someone sit in extreme pain or even be drowning but not call out for help?
Thinking back on a prior week, I developed the answer to this question. Only about two weeks before these two incidents we had blind camp. This meant being the eyes of about eighty people. It was a daunting task at first. At the pool, we were all wondering how we were supposed to guard ten people who couldn’t see, all at the same time. Luckily, things worked out, but that week did bring more interesting situations than the prior camp weeks had. Several times, during the swimming tests, blind swimmers got tangled up in the rope, but unlike the other patrons, they called out for help. This came back into my memory as I was pondering the close calls we had during camp meeting, and it led me to a vital discovery.
People don’t call out for help unless they are blind. I realized that, when you have eyes, you feel some sense of control over your situation. On the contrary, when you are blind, you don’t know where you are or what to do. You have no control over your situation. So it is spiritually. People don’t call out for help when they are in spiritual trouble. All around you are thousands of souls that are languishing in spiritual despair, but because they can still “see”, they are silent. They won’t call out for help until they reach a point of absolute despair. By then, it may be too late. Often, we expect to have people coming to the church for help. Sometimes it happens, but I can tell you that ninety percent of the time it won’t. Occasionally, someone is brought in, but often this is because of a friend of the sufferer who called out for their companion just like the mother in my story.
Don’t sit in your pew and wait for someone to come to you. Don’t simply come to church to check it off your list. Don’t sit by and let the people around you suffer. Go out to them. Go out like Jesus and find the lost sheep. Go out and ease the world’s suffering. In their lowest moment, they are waiting for you to come rescue them, so get up and go!