Once when I was very young I was running along a sandy shore, swooping and dodging and laughing with an exuberance known only to children and very wise adults. I darted from the grassy bank out onto the crusty sand along the beach. What appeared to be firm was not. Instantly I began to sink up to my chest in the mire. I was screaming for help and flailing my arms in desperation, and help came. An adult came running with a long sturdy branch that he extended to me over the sand. Slowly I was pulled free from the ooze, which released me only with a regretful sucking sound. I stood trembling along the shore, not even yet realizing the extent of the peril I had been in. “You had better go home,” a voice said. I trudged up the hill to my home. My father met me at the door of the garage and few short questions sized up the situation. “Go to the garage and take those clothes off. I’ll bring you something else to wear.” And “Don’t tell your mother. She worries too much.”
Now that I am older and have enough years to have a perspective of my own, I recognize a simple truth. There are other times in my life I have darted from the grassy bank out onto sinking sand. Sometimes it has been careless, but other times, just one of those things. You do the right thing, in the right way, and at the right time, and you sink anyway. That is part of what it means to be human.
You also have had this experience. Always it catches us unaware, when we are comfortable, perhaps too self-assured. Suddenly the ground beneath our feet gives way and becomes sinking sand. We are instantly out of our depth, wrestling with the feelings of helplessness. Defenses leap immediately into action. Fear and confusion begin to cloud our thinking. We marshal the forces of defensiveness or anger, or we look for ways to shrink back into denial. Not facing the reality of the quicksand that has overtaken us can be fatal. Recognizing that we have been in this position before, and that rescue is possible gives us hope and makes it easier to cry out for help. When we cry out for help, help comes.
Fortunately another part of human experience is the discovery of love. Very often in those situations a branch has been extended to me by someone more mature in faith than me. In a few amazing events One who loved me and gave Himself for me simply walked out over the surface of the crusty but unstable sand, extended His hand, and drew me from the mire. Always he has taken my filthy garments and clothed me in white. Never once has he said, “Don’t tell.”