The Buddy System

Underwater cave divers swim and wiggle through sharp, narrow, jagged crevices as they work their way through eerie, black water into the deepest, darkest, and most remote areas of a cave. What could the safety practices of one of the world’s most dangerous sports possibly teach us for our spiritual journey? To find out, I invite you to read more.

Cave diving is an inherently dangerous sport. Diving in a cave brings with it maze- like passages, visibility issues, and a rock ceiling that prevents a diver from a direct ascent to the surface.  Caves contain sand, mud, clay, silt, and other sediment which are easily stirred up, making visibility hazardous or impossible. Caves can also have strong dangerous currents. All of these factors converge to make cave diving extremely treacherous. Many people die participating in this sport. The safety procedures employed by these divers, however, offer us a valuable Christian message.

What is it that draws people to this perilous sport? One of the allures of cave diving is the opportunity to explore the past. Divers often find ancient hieroglyphics on the walls and artifacts strewn on the floor of caves. Sometimes they even find skeletal remains.

When you and I do a deep dive into the farthest recesses of our soul, we find many hidden things from our past. We might encounter scary areas of darkness, old artifacts from past mistakes, and even some skeletons deeply buried away in the abyss.

To be a successful cave diver, experience is essential. No one without extensive training should ever attempt a cave dive. To live a successful Christian life, we need training too. The Bible and the long-standing teachings and traditions of the Church are a lifeline for the Christian journey.

Redundant safety measures are also critical. Divers have backups for their backups. A diver not only has the light he or she is using, but they also place multiple backup lights, batteries, ropes, air tanks and other forms of safety equipment along the route into and out of the cave. As Christians we need to surround ourselves with the tools of faith that assure us a safe passage to the gates of Heaven.

But of all possible precautions, it is the use of the buddy system that is of utmost importance. Buddy diving involves diving in pairs to improve the chances of avoiding or surviving an accident. Solo cave diving usually leads to disaster. Buddy divers are mutually responsible for each other’s safety. Each buddy must know how to operate their own and their buddy’s equipment, and they need to be prepared to operate it under stressful conditions.

Jesus is a big fan of the buddy system as well. In Luke 10:1-12, we discover that Jesus knew that He was sending His disciples out like lambs among wolves. Because of the dangers of Christian life, we also read that Jesus sent them out in twos.

Like cave diving, life itself is fraught with danger. We can be harmed simply because we are living in a broken world and we can harm ourselves through sin. Good Christian friends are essential for a successful journey through life.

When we slow down enough, to explore the deep recesses of our soul, we see that like a cave, it has many rooms, crevices, and fissures. Parts of our soul might be as dark as a cave. Our sins and the brokenness of life have littered our soul with sediment and debris that when stirred up, cloud our vision. When we get lost, we frequently need a good Christian buddy to guide us back to the light of Christ.

Here is what the Bible says about the importance of friends:

  • Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
  • Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.
  • Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them.

Our close Christian friends cannot solve our problems, nor can they heal our pains, but a good friend can weep with us when we weep, and they can listen to us when we need someone to talk to. They can also just sit with us during our difficult times. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “He who is alone with his sin, is utterly alone.”

Cave divers dive year-round. Lent offers Christians the ideal season for diving deep into the dark and remote areas of their soul. Remember, it is never safe to dive alone. Do you have a good Christian buddy that you trust enough to open up to about those things that trouble you? We all need a friend like this!

I will conclude with a cute story. This little excerpt from a conversation between Winnie the Pooh and Piglet points out the value of the Christian buddy system.

“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.

There was a pause.

“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.

“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”

 “That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.

 “What are you doing?” asked Pooh.

 “Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.”

 “But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”

And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.”.

A.A. Milne, author Winnie-the-Pooh 

Heavenly Father, faithful friends truly are life-saving medicine. Christian friends can bring the light of Christ to the darkest areas of my soul. Please surround me with good friends and help me also to be a good friend to others. Amen!

As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.

Brian Pusateri
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  1. G. Barrie Heinzenknecht on March 30, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks Brian,

    You made me think and I conclude that growing older I have chosen to circle the wagons with only my family and best friends in the circle of wagons. But I am not sure I have a Piglet in my wagon train circle. But it now occurs to me that our Prayer and Share group is the other wagon train and all of you are Piglets.


  2. Marcia Delmore on March 27, 2021 at 10:06 pm

    Great reminder of how important Christian friends are in our journey here on earth.
    Christ’s Peace
    Marcia Delmore

  3. Dave Fechtman on March 10, 2021 at 8:14 am

    This is a great piece, Brian. This is why I love my Bible study group so much! I’m also sharing this with a friend who does a lot of cave diving. 😉

    • Brian Pusateri on March 13, 2021 at 3:38 pm


      Thanks for your post. It is always good to hear from you.

      God bless.


  4. Dee Stout on March 9, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Having as many Christian friends as possible helps us be better in every aspect of our lives. Thanks!

  5. Jim Nolan on March 9, 2021 at 9:49 am

    A very powerful message. We need to be in communion with others to be better. Thanks, Jim

    • Brian Pusateri on March 13, 2021 at 3:42 pm


      Yo are so right! Thanks for your post.


  6. Kristen on March 9, 2021 at 9:30 am

    I’m so blessed to have faithful family and friends to stand by me – and I see how important that is! But what your message made me realize is that I really need to pray that my children will have faithful friends to stand by them through the joys and sorrows of Christian life! I know as the years go on they will rely more on their peers – Thank you for this!

    • Brian Pusateri on March 9, 2021 at 9:41 am


      What a great point you make. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Frank Lofurno on March 9, 2021 at 8:28 am

    Thank you Brian. Words of wisdom!

  8. Gordon Brown on March 9, 2021 at 5:54 am

    What a deep and splendid message for Lent and throughout our lives. Thank you.

    • Brian Pusateri on March 9, 2021 at 6:01 am


      Thank you! I always enjoy hearing from you. God bless.


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