Tag Archives: rescue

Rescued from Drowning

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When I was in elementary school, my dad was hired as our church youth pastor.  I thought it was the best thing that could ever happen to a 4th grader because my sister and I got to go to all the youth group events:  hay rack rides, roller skating nights, camp outs, and bon fires.  On one of these summer events, we went tubing down the Apple River, splashing each other and flipping each other’s tubes as we floated down the lazy river.

The top end of the river had been dammed to make a small lake with an island in the center.  It was a small dam because at its headwaters, the river is not much more than a creek.  The small dam was sloped in a way that we could ride our inner tubes down it like a big water slide and at the end of the slide we were rolled and tumbled in the curl of water where the dam met the river.  It was great fun!

While we were waiting our turns on the dam slide (haha, I just made myself giggle) we paddled around the little lake and explored the island.   Some of us invented a sort of game where four of us would all sit on the sides of the same tube and on the count of three we’d all fall backwards into the lake.  Over and over again we’d scramble back up the sides of the tube, laughing and splashing the whole time.  It was great fun to be included in games with the teenagers!

I was having a blast until the very last moment.  No one gave a single thought to the fact that this last load of kids on the inner tube was very mismatched in weight.  We all counted to three and arched our backs to flop into the lake, but since I was the lightest in the group, the inner tube flipped over on top of me.  Before I could get out from under it, the other kids were scrambling back on top of the tube, their feet kicking me as I was trapped under the now fully loaded tube.

I was running out of breath, but I decided that to get out from under their feet I needed to swim deeper and then to the right.  Unfortunately when I sank deeper, my feet became tangled in the weeds at the bottom of the lake.  That’s when I got scared.  I could see the circle of sunlight in the center of the inner tube above me, legs dangling through the hole.  I reached up my hand, but I couldn’t touch anyone.

My lungs were burning.  I was scared.  “This is it,” I thought sadly.  “I’m going to drown within inches of the surface of the water.”  I stretched my arm a little higher, praying that someone would see me.

Suddenly, one of the teenage boys plunged his hand into the water and grabbed my hand with a strong grip.  He pulled me up hard.  As I broke through the surface that had seemed so far out of my reach, I gasped for air.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he draped my arms over the edge of the tube and began paddling towards the shore.  Everyone else on the tube was giggling and splashing, completely unaware of the fact that I had just nearly drowned.  The boy and I did not say a word to each other.  When we got to the shore of the lake, he held me by the shoulders to steer me as I weakly staggered to a sitting position on the narrow strip of sand at the edge of the water.  I sat there trembling.  Then he ran back to join the others for more fun.  I think he knew he had just saved my life, but it was too heavy of a thought to press into words.

I think about that incident when I read the Psalms.  David often speaks of times of sorrow or trouble when the waters are over his head.  He sings of how God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground.  That’s what God does when we call out to him.  He reaches down and pulls us up.

“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help.”  (Psalm 69:1-3)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me.  I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord, save me!’  The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple-hearted.  When I was in great need, he saved me.  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

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I am the Ring

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Tired

Lord, I’m so tired.

Life is feeling long and weary.

The days are feeling so… daily,

So routine.

I am growing weary of this old world

Its dramas

Its heartbreaks

Its disappointments

Its aggravating tendency to break down and wear out.

I am ready to be done with the temporal.

I’m longing for the eternal.

Does it really matter, all the things I give my time to?

Does it really matter if the grout in my shower is white?

Does it really matter if every corner of the house is dusted?

Does it matter that there are 20 pairs of shoes cluttering the front door?

Why does this stress me?

My heart and mind are longing to soar

My hands and feet are moored to this soil

This pull between here and there

Now and later

Heaven and Earth

Is causing me to ache all over.

You know I’m just made of dust.

This old, earthy case for my soul is feeling shabby and dull

And inside my soul sparkles and shimmers

With intense longing for my source,

For the Rock from which I was cut.

I am the Ring

Return me to my source.

I just want to be where you are, Lord.

I am just so tired, so very tired.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

And if you don’t come rescue me,

At least come close to me.

“All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.”  Psalm 38:9

Firewalking

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Bear with me if you’ve heard this one before (or just skip to the very end and read the last 2 paragraphs).

A long time ago in Ancient Babylon there were 3 Hebrew teenagers.  Now because we aren’t in Ancient Babylon I’m going to take some artistic liberties and give these boys modern names. Let’s just call them Chad, Mike, and Ben.  They were captives serving the King of Babylon.  They were chosen to be servants instead of being killed because they were smart, good looking, and came from noble families back in Israel.  They should have show gratitude to the King for sparing their lives.  Instead, they refused to eat the food he sent from his own table because it had been sacrificed to idols and that was morally repulsive to a Hebrew.  For their moral courage, God gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds in addition to favor with the King.  They were given important government jobs in Babylon.

Time passed, and one day the King of Babylon got a wild idea.  He constructed a huge golden statue of himself, set it out on a plain, and required everyone to come and worship his statue.  He ordered everyone, “When you hear the band start to play music, bow down and worship my statue.”  Chad, Mike and Ben knew that this was wrong.  So when the music started and everyone dropped to their knees there were 3 boys left standing.  The King called Chad, Mike and Ben in for a talk.  “Now because I like you boys, I’m going to give you a second chance.  When you hear the music, bow down to the statue.  Come on guys, be team players, you’re making me look bad.  Just bend your knees, that’s all I ask.  Otherwise I’m going to have to throw you in a fiery furnace in front of everyone just to show who’s boss.  Then what god will rescue you from my anger?”

The boys replied, “We don’t need a second chance.  It will be the same as before.  We only bow to the God we serve.  And he is able to save us from your hand and the fiery furnace.  But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or bow to your statue, O King.”

That pissed the King off in a big way!  He ordered the furnace turned up seven times hotter than usual.  It was so hot that the soldiers ordered to throw the boys in the fire dropped dead from the heat.  These three boys fell into the flames, bound hand and foot.

Suddenly, the King jumped to his feet in amazement.  He shouted, “Hey!  Weren’t there three guys that we tied up and threw in the fire?  Look!  I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods!”  So he called them out of the fire.  When they walked out alive everyone crowded around them to examine them.  There was not a hair singed on their heads and they didn’t even smell like smoke!  The King burst out in praise to God, the God who rescued Chad, Mike and Ben.  And he ordered that everyone worship the one true God too.  The End.

Here’s my point in telling this story.  Very often we pray that God would rescue us from the flames of whatever trial we are facing.  But sometimes he doesn’t.  Sometimes God wants us to go into the fire.  Sometimes God wants to rescue us IN the fire instead of rescuing us FROM the fire.  But there is another option too.  Sometimes it is God’s will that we die in the fire.  The history of the world is full of people who have died for their faith, martyrs.  And Chad, Mike and Ben were OK with any of those 3 final scenarios.  Any of them.  They said, “Even if God doesn’t rescue us, we will still worship him.”

So yes, God can rescue you FROM the fire.  He can meet you IN the fire.  Or he can ask you to DIE by fire either physically or metaphorically.  It’s his choice.  Are you all right with all of those choices?  Would you stand firm in your commitment to God even if it looks like it’s not going to have a pretty ending?  Is God still worthy of your worship even if he doesn’t answer your prayers like you wanted him to?  Walking through the fire could be your finest moment with God, because he won’t let you go there alone.  If he calls you to the fire, he will be with you.  He promised.