“Don’t do it!”
Joe glances toward the gravely voice he just heard. Not recognizing the stranger and assuming that he must be speaking to someone else, Joe tosses the shirt he just removed onto his beach towel and turns back to the water.
“I’m serious,” the voice says. “Don’t go in that water!”
“Why not?” Joe asks, annoyed by the interruption. On vacation, Joe is looking forward to a refreshing swim in the gulf.
"Because there are are 4 stingrays and 5 sharks swimming just a few feet from where you are standing,” the stranger insists. "
“Yeah, right!” Joe snaps. “Look, I don’t mean to be rude but I don’t see anything. Why should I believe you?”
“I know you can’t see anything from down here. I can’t either, but,” says the stranger, pointing toward the high-rise condos behind him, “I just came from the 12th floor balcony. And, from there, I could easily see what’s swimming just below the surface here. If you go in the water, you could get hurt. Let me show you to a safer place to swim.”
If you were Joe, what would you do? Ignore the warning and swim? Ask more questions? Insist on seeing the view from above for yourself?
This is not a purely hypothetical situation. The conversation didn’t take place, but it could have. Standing on a 12th floor balcony, I saw the 4 rays and 5 sharks swimming in shallow water near the beach – water where children played. Maybe it’s not unusual for sharks and rays and people to swim so close together. Maybe it’s not even dangerous. After all, these were small sharks – only 3 or 4 feet long. But seeing for yourself what’s lurking beneath the surface certainly changes your feeling about diving into the water.
I wonder if that’s part of what makes God so different from us – he sees from a much higher vantage point than we do, so he sees more clearly and more broadly than we do.
Isaiah the prophet recorded God’s words to his nation, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
Our dilemma is much like Joe’s. Perhaps our most pivotal decision in life will be whether we will decide our own course or trust in the words from the Stranger who came from above to provide us with a different perspective on life.