We had planned our trip to Love Beach, on the island of New Providence, Bahamas, to the minutest details.
We had discovered this tropical snorkelling haven online, and although it was way out of town, we had found a jitney that would take us there. This beach was supposedly only for locals, but we had read that well-behaved tourists would be welcomed. Since we intended to be well-behaved, we didn’t count on any problems. And we didn’t have any!
Except for that one… But it was just a little problem, right? Or maybe not so little, after all…
As I was unpacking my snorkelling gear at the beach, I discovered that I had forgotten a very important piece of swimming gear: My swimsuit! Oh no! What would I do? I couldn’t go out in the ocean without this little item of clothing!
But what were my alternatives? Going back to then hotel would take me at least half a day, as jitneys only came out to this part of the island once every hour. Beachcombing would be fun at first, but after a couple of hours it would become boring. We had come here to snorkel, and that’s what I had my mind set on doing! I wanted to explore this particular reef that I had read so much about!
Ever the practical one, my wife had a suggestion: “Why don’t you swim in your underwear?”
“No way!” Was my immediate response. “That would be disgusting. And embarrassing, too!”
By she had that “look” on her face, the one that said, “You’re being silly!” “Why?” She asked. “We’re the only ones here!”
I looked around, and sure enough, the beautiful sands of this lovely beach were practically deserted. I did notice a pair of people snorkelling way out in the water, several hundred feet down the beach, and off to my left was an older man who was beachcombing. And of course, there were the construction workers on the hill behind us, but they were occupied with their work. What would it hurt? Nobody would see me anyway, and even if they did, wouldn’t they think my colourful boxers looked like swimming trunks?
I quickly slapped on some suntan lotion (an action I would later regret!), and then I did the unthinkable . . . No way! Yes way! I did it! I went snorkelling in my boxer shorts! And the reward was unimaginable. Although small, the coral reef was alive with marine life. We were so mesmerized by the splendour that hours flew by before we noticed that we better get back to our hotel.
After a lengthy wait for a jitney, we finally found ourselves back in our hotel room. That’s when I discovered that my right foot was badly sunburned. When I examined the left one, however, I found it to be so badly burned that, comparatively speaking, my right foot no longer looked burned at all!
But this is another story altogether!
This whole episode made me realize that in our daily living we are constantly faced with the choice of comfortably staying where we are, or taking a risk. Staying where we are assures that we avoid most adrenaline-filled episodes. But it also greets us with a boring perspective on life. Taking risks, on the other hand, makes us discover that life is worth living, and that beauty exists even in places of utter desolation. You might get burned at times, but the rewards are always greater than the risks!
Take, for example, that angry person that constantly taunts others. He’s the one who is avoided by everyone. But have you ever tried to reach out to him? Did you know that his wife just left him for greener pastures? Did you know he is petrified by the idea of having to raise his two kids by himself? He is like a world that is yet to be discovered, and you would be amazed at the beauty that can result if you just reach out to him. And who knows? The rewards could reach eternity!
Jesus gave us a basic principle:
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” (James 3:18)
It is worth taking a risk for other people. If we just sit back and watch, all we get in life is a sore bottom, but beauty awaits us if we are just willing to take the risk.
“That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.” (Luke 19:26 The Message)
Can anyone bring me my pants? I don’t dare get out of the water!
(To view the entire “The Problem With Pain” devotional series, please click here.)