By now, I am sure most of you have read about and watched the terrifying footage of Australian surfer, Mick Fanning, fighting off a Great White shark during his final in South Africa. So big is the story, it made the front page of almost all of Australia’s newspapers this morning.
It’s a first for international surfing competitions, seeing it filmed live, and has rattled surfers, organisers, and spectators alike.
Shark attacks are a well known and documented risk for any surfer who takes to the water, with many surfing hot-spots known to be “sharky”. But no-one ever really believes when they paddle out, that in a few minutes time they’d be using a surfboard for a shield or wildly throwing punches into a hungry predator’s back.
In response, organisers have said that they’re going to review competition safety measures, to see where they could make changes to prevent future attacks. You get a sense from many of the surfers, professional and amateur, and competition organisers comments that they know how miraculous Mick’s survival was, and realise that maybe everyone was guilty of becoming complacent about the risk sharks pose.
Complacency is a very common human trait and is arguably one of the leading causes of death and injury around the world. Workplace accidents, drownings, car accidents and to a more sinister and subtle extent, racism, genocide and war can so often be traced back to an instance or instances of complacency.
Dictionary.com defines com·pla·cen·cy [kuhm-pley-suhn-see] as a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation or condition
As Christians, the Bible warns us against complacency in both our physical and spiritual lives.
In Isaiah 32:9 the prophet calls out the complacency of Israel’s women directly.
Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
John Calvin in his commentary of Isaiah 32:9 talks about how this scripture can remind us “that we ought not to sleep in the midst of prosperity, nor imagine that we are safe, as if we could expect uninterrupted prosperity in the world.
Calvin goes on to say “men are undoubtedly more in danger from prosperity than from adversity. for when matters go smoothly, they flatter themselves, and are intoxicated by their success”.
Our time is short in this world and none of us know when we or those we care about will die.
It is easy to forget about the inevitability of death and judgment for all, when we’re doing well, or at the very least, better than others at life.
But our death is inevitable and our time on earth very finite.
So we must not put off God and our christian walk till tomorrow, for we cannot be certain of our tomorrows.
Do not put off praying for the unbelievers of the world, because for many of them there will be no more tomorrows. Be always prayerful about seeking opportunities to share the Gospel with the non-christians in your life.
We must never relax our guard and always be watchful, as we are now in the end times and must be ready to give an account when our Lord returns.
You can be certain that when Mick Fanning sat waiting for his next wave, he was not thinking about his death or what might come after. I wouldn’t be surprised, if now when he gets into the water that question will play quite heavily on his mind. Mick has now had a taste of his own mortality and an encounter like that changes how a person looks at their life.
Pray for Mick and his family, pray that the Lord may use this to speak into his heart and the hearts of all those within the tight-knit surfing community so deeply affected by such a sudden and terrifyingly close call.
Rosie Timmins attends Donvale Presbyterian Church and is AP’s Social Media Coordinator.