I worked as a lifeguard for a couple of summers when I was growing up. I got the job even though at the time, I hadn’t taken the course you needed for life-guard certification. The swimming pool where I was hired was in a pinch and needed someone right away, so I came on with the understanding that I would get my certification ASAP.
It wasn’t more than couple of weeks before a class was offered, and I enrolled in it. Our teacher was a guy named Kirby (I don’t remember his last name). He taught us that lifeguarding wasn’t about fun and games — it was about water safety and in extreme cases — life or death. He impressed upon us the truth that if you were not trained to rescue a person, then not only could a drowning occur — two drownings could happen: you and the person you were trying to rescue.
That’s because the person drowning was in full panic mode, they were not thinking rationally. As you approached them, their only thought was survival, which meant trying to climb on top of you in order to keep their head above water. If you didn’t know the technique for releasing from panic holds (front or back), you didn’t need to be trying to rescue anyone.
The day of our certification test. I can’t tell you anything that the test was about other than you had to tread water while Kirby came up behind you, grabbed you from behind, and took you under water. Did I mention Kirby had played football in college? He had been a lineman and later had a tryout a couple of years before with the New Orleans Saints. He had at least a hundred pounds of mass and muscle on all of us.
I passed the certification test (not everyone did). But I think we all appreciated what Kirby did for us. He saved our lives. For some, like me, he did that by training us how to deal with a panicked swimmer. For those who failed the course, he saved their lives by not certifying them and putting them and in a situation they couldn’t handle.
As long as I live, I will never forget looking straight ahead and treading water while waiting for Kirby to grab me from behind and pull me under. I think Jacob must have had a similar feeling (magnified a few thousand times) as he waited for his brother Esau. It had been twenty years since they had seen each other. Jacob had stolen Esau’s blessing and Esau wanted to kill him (Genesis 27:41). Now he would get that chance. He was coming with 400 men. Jacob had divided his family into two groups (hoping that would increase the chances of someone surviving). He sent them across the river. And he waited.
He was attacked — but not by Esau — it was by a representative of God. They wrestled all night and when it was finally over, Jacob was left broken (his hip dislocated), but blessed and with a new name. It’s a fascinating story and you can read it in Genesis 32.

Find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.