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"HELP!" The faint cry is choked off as another wave crashes over the nearly-exhausted swimmer. A hand thrusts skyward out of the cold waves. Someone yells encouragement from the shore. "Just hold on! You'll be all right!"

Hold on? Hold on to what?

The swimmer's strength is giving out. In panic he grabs at the waves, but they splash through his fingers. Though he struggles against the force of the sea, the strong current sweeps him farther away from the shore.

But help is on the way! A life preserver skims over the swirling water. It lands a few feet away from the desperate swimmer. With his last bit of strength, he strains to fling his exhausted body toward the symbol of safety. A wave moves the life preserver toward him, and at last it is within his grasp. At that moment, a cry rings across the water, "Hang on and I'll pull you to safety!"

Countless people today are like the drowning swimmer, overwhelmed in a sea of distress and fears. Threats of nuclear holocaust, violence, and economic upheaval surround them. Many are haunted by hunger, disease, and poverty. Emotional pressure, mental turmoil, and internal fears engulf others.

They are struggling. They are grabbing at the waves. They are striving in their own strength to cope, but their resources are almost exhausted.

They need deliverance!

Those looking on may try to help. "Keep hanging in there," they say. But that advice, however well meant, is insufficient—just as the words of encouragement shouted at the drowning man were futile when he had nothing to hang on to. What he needed was something to grasp that would bring him to safety.

The swimmer knew that he was in desperate need. But it may be more difficult for us to recognize our helplessness. We may have done our best to survive on our own. But eventually we'll find out that we can't save ourselves any more than the swimmer could.

We need something to grasp that will bring us to safety!

Jesus provides what we need. There is a promise in the Bible which says, "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him" (Psalm 91:15). That promise is our life preserver. Salvation through Jesus Christ is our only hope.

The promise of salvation, however, won't do us any good unless we reach out and take hold of it. But how do we do that?

We must realize that we need help; that we cannot save ourselves. Our struggles are futile. But when we turn to Jesus, we take hold of the life preserver with both hands. We tell Him that we're sorry for all the wrong things we have done, and purpose with His help never to do them again. He removes the guilt of sin and replaces it with inner peace and satisfaction.

And so the one who reaches out for what God offers finds salvation in his grasp. But the one who doesn't take the remedy offered faces death—eternal, spiritual death.

Don't struggle any longer. Take hold of the hope that God offers. Make the right decision, and make it in time!

[Message copied with thanks from Apostolic Faith, Portland, Oregon, USA.]