The Sunburn, Part 1: Where is the Sun Screen?

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matt 7:7-8 NIV)

It was a perfect day for Six Flags Darien Lake. The sun shone brightly, and it promised to be another hot, somewhat humid day, just the perfect thing for the water park. But the best part was that although this was a Friday in the middle of the summer, there were hardly any people!

The very first thing we all did as we entered the park was to liberally smoother every exposed body part with sunscreen. I was feeling rather smug as I lathered up my arms, all the way up to the sleeves of my tee-shirt, and slapped a handful onto the back of my neck. There really wasn't any need to put any anywhere else. My face was hidden under the brim of my hat, and my legs? Well who ever got sunburn on their legs when all they were doing was walking around? After a quick visual inspection to see that the three kids and my husband had all done the same thing, I pushed the bottle of sunscreen down into my pocket, and we went merrily on our way.

We spent the first two hours riding all of the roller coasters. (Okay. Time to be honest here. "I" spent the first two hours WATCHING the others ride the roller coasters. Although I still love the thrill of the speed and the flips, I'm getting old, and my poor head and spine just can't handle it anymore!).

By the time we had finished all five of the wildest coasters, it was time for lunch, and we traipsed out to the car for our picnic. I was tired of having the sunscreen in my pocket by this time, so I shifted it into the front pocket of the sling I was using to carry everyone's water bottles (If you don't ride the roller coasters, you're only good as a water carrier. If you don't believe me, ask the kids!).

After lunch, we grabbed the bag with our swimsuits and towels, and we headed off to spend the hottest part of the day in the water park. What better place? And what a good time we had. My husband accepted the official position of "stuff guarder", and he proceeded to find a chaise in the shade. I'm not exactly sure what he did to fill his time, but I suspect he made at least one brief trip into dreamland! Meanwhile the rest of us changed into our swim suits and headed for the lazy river. I briefly thought about sunscreen as we walked away, but only for a second. After all, we had put some on at the beginning of the day, right?

After the second trip around the lazy river, we began looking for more of a thrill. The water slides fit the bill exactly. But the most thrilling water slides were on the other side of the water park, and after two runs on the ones by the lazy river, we were ready for wilder adventures. As we walked back towards where we had left my husband, I noticed that the shoulders of the neighbor girl who had come with us were turning a little pink. Hum. How could this be? We had used sunscreen! Then it hit me: we weren't in our swim suits when we had brought out the bottle! This poor girl would fry to a crisp if I didn't do something soon! And if she was already burning, what about me? And my two boys?

We found our things exactly where we had left them, and I immediately dug into the main pouch on the sling for the sunscreen. Nothing but water bottles! Oh dear! I frantically pulled out all of the bottles to make sure the sunscreen hadn't slid down under them. Nothing! Had I just THOUGHT I had put the sunscreen in the pouch? Had I really put it in the car instead?

Turning to the neighbor girl, I asked: "How are your shoulders? Are you getting burned?" Dumb question. I already knew she was!

"Oh no," came the quick reply. "I'm okay!"

"Good!" Was my enthusiastic response. Though I knew she was burning, I allowed her answer to appease my concerns. I didn't want to go back to the car!

It wasn't long before I noticed that the neighbor girl's back was no longer pink. It had turned a bright shade of red. "You need sunscreen!" I said.

She glanced over her shoulder. "Yeah, I do," she answered.

"I must have left it in the car!" I admitted.

"Oh, I'll be okay!"

Just the answer I was looking for, and conscience appeased, we proceeded down the next water slide. And the next. And into the wave pool. And back to the wading pool, where we had left my husband.

By this time we were ready for other amusement. Why not the water rides in the park? We had seen three good ones earlier in the day.

My guilt-ridden conscience was glad to see that the kids all put on tee-shirts. This would provide them with some protection from the sun. I didn't bother with one. I knew I would just be getting wet, and why not stay in my swim suit? And I proceeded to turn a blind eye on the first water ride, when the tee-shirts came off the kids, too.

It was 5 o'clock when we finally finished with water rides and took our swimming things back out to the car. Still feeling pretty guilty about the bright red color all over the neighbor girl. I frantically searched the back of the car for the sunscreen, but to no avail. It simply wasn't there! I bit my lip in frustration. Where could it be? But the sun HAD lost its power by this time, so why worry? And I pushed it out of my mind.

It was while waiting for the kids to go on one last roller coaster that I happened to notice a lump in the front pouch of the sling, the small one in front of the pouch that held the water bottles. I zipped it open, and sure enough, there was the bottle of sunscreen. It had been with us all along, I just hadn't bothered to worry about it enough to find it.

By the time we got home, I realized that the neighbor girl wasn't the only human-turned lobster in our party. My own back and shoulders, and even my chest burned and itched, a sure sign that by the next morning I would be miserable. All because I hadn't bothered to search out the bottle of sunscreen!

Friends, no matter what problem we face in life, there is a solution. We don't have to go through our trouble without help, Jesus. But just like I didn't bother looking hard enough to find that bottle of sunscreen, sometimes we refuse to let Jesus help us. We figure we can do it on our own, or the trouble is too much for Jesus. Or sometimes we simply think that since we may have asked Jesus for protection first thing that morning, that we have enough of Him to handle all of our problems. And then we find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into the mire of circumstance.

Friends, if you are getting a sunburn (in the middle of trouble), don't just try to "go it" without sunscreen (without Jesus!). All you'll end up with is a terrible burn (frustration, lose of heart, troubles mushrooming). And if you can't seem to find the sunscreen (Jesus in the midst of the trouble), don't just assume it's in the car (He's abandoned you)! Keep on searching (keep on trusting) and in the end, you WILL find the help you need!

Lyn Chaffart

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