FIRST-PERSON: 'Swim at your own risk!'
FRESNO, Calif. (BP)--Last August was some of the most exciting and relaxing times I'd had in a long time. I was in Hawaii where my wife Carmen and I spent a few days in what we believe is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Islands remind me of the summer I spent in Providencia, Colombia as a boy with my parents. The beautiful sea and beaches, excellent training from my grandfather in the art of fishing, and harvesting sugar cane are vivid memories. Besides the great memories it evoked, Hawaii was a joy for its beautiful scenery and also the people from all over the world I met.
I also had an experience there that relates to me spiritually. There was a sign on the beach which read, "Danger! Jellyfish! Swim at your own risk!" Having encountered these creatures as a youngster, I opted for the manmade pool.
It occurs to me that the beauty of the water never reveals the danger below. There are times when something appears safe, yet lurking beneath is extreme danger.
I have seen the results of not paying attention to the signs of danger -- crisis, rejection, brokenness, loneliness, even death. There is danger all around us. Yet, there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone. God's presence is with us.
Don't despair in the face of dangers. Remember the pain of the jellyfish can be soothed with appropriate treatment.
Just rely on the power and presence of a loving God.
Fermín Whittaker is the executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention.