Remember these pics from 10/13/10 inSantiago Chile?
Everyone loves rescue stories: in books, movies, and life. It’s been a year since over one billion viewers held their breaths as 33 men in Chile, trapped for 69 days, finally surfaced from a collapsed mine a half -mile underground. The last of the 33men found freedom about 22 hours after the first. What a miraculous story! From surviving 17 days without contact with the outside world, surviving on food enough for two days, to surviving the actual assent to freedom, each step of survival amazed the world.
I have a rescue story, too. Even though my rescue has many similarities to the miners’ rescue, we see one major difference. Like the miners, I needed a Savior. However, my need was not for my physical life, but for my spiritual life.
I’m sure the miners thought they could die during several occasions over the sixty-nine day event. Similarly, I remember as a second grader coming face to face with death as a reality, and even feared death, when I lost three grandparents in six months. I heard about heaven, vaguely understanding the concept, but knew I wanted to go there when I died. My parents explained that my grandparents were in heaven after they died. We last saw each of my grandparents’ bodies at the funeral home. My youngest sister, four-years-old at the time, thought Baggerly’s Funeral home in Edmond, Oklahoma was actually heaven. These events made me question my own spiritual condition. By understanding the other similarities and differences of our rescues, you too, can experience a life giving rescue.
First, understand another difference. Unlike the miners who knew immediately after the collapse of the mine that they needed help, I originally didn’t understand I needed help. As a young girl, I thought… I’m a pretty good girl. I go to church every Sunday with my family; I’ve never murdered anyone, even though I’ve been mad enough at my older brother to kill him J. I try to be nice to my two younger sisters and older brother, and I usually only hit them if they hit me first. Well, ok. I start some of the commotion myself J. I do the best I can in school. I think God will love me because I’m not as bad as other people. But through God’s Word, I learned that my bad actions, bad thoughts, bad attitudes were called sin. And even one sin was enough to separate me from the perfect God of the Bible. Because God is perfect, he does not allow sin into heaven. I may not have been trapped under a mile of rock, but sin trapped me, separating me from God. I realized I needed to be rescued. I needed a Savior.
Now understand the first similarity: Just think what would have happened if the miners thought they could escape on their own. They all would have perished. I also used to think I could free myself from my sin. Maybe if I just do enough good things, go to church regularly, give money to the poor, then I could save myself from my sin. Ephesians 2:8-9 says…For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works so that no one should boast. Just as impossible as it would have been for the miners to escape with a small hammer, it is impossible to work our way into heaven.
The second similarity: The miners didn’t “deserve” to be rescued. The miners hadn’t “earned the right” to escape. They merely experienced the new joy because people that loved them wanted them back. Therefore, people whom they never even met worked to make it happen. Likewise, I didn’t have to “do” anything to deserve God’s grace. Only because of God’s love for me did he display His grace to me by rescuing me in spite of my sin. The Bible says God came and rescued us “while we were sinners”. We don’t have to make our lives look better and then God will accept us. He accepts us even when sin traps us.
The third similarity: Like the miners only had one way out, God gave us one way out. God sent Jesus. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father. Why would God send His only Son to die for us if there was another way?
The fourth similarity: For the miners, it was not enough for them to KNOW ABOUT the escape route, but they had to demonstrate their faith by getting into the escape capsule. How absurd would it have been if the miners decided to stay where they were and not be rescued? But they did have a choice to escape, or not. The miners had to place their faith in the rescue effort. Once they stepped out in faith into the escape contraption, they did not have to put out any effort of their own to ascend to the surface. They totally relied on their rescuers.
I remember realizing that my grandparents could only go to heaven because of their faith in Jesus. They each had to decide for themselves if they would believe. It didn’t matter if they were born to believing parents. It didn’t matter if they had perfect church attendance. It didn’t matter if they knew the great stories of the Bible or the nice songs about Jesus. If they didn’t believe it for themselves, they would have died in their sin, separated from God.
Similarly, one night we had a speaker at our church (a good ole’ revival service). God helped me understand that I needed to place my faith in Jesus, God’s only rescue effort. The Bible tells us, the penalty for my sin is death, separated from God forever. But Jesus died in my place. God accepted Jesus’ blood on the cross as a payment for my sin. I told God I trusted Him and wanted to have Jesus save me by forgiving my sin. Once I trusted in Christ, I turned from my self- effort of escape to rely only on Christ for my escape. I couldn’t “do” anything else to help my escape. It was by faith alone that I God rescued me.
My life giving rescue changed my life that night. God gave me freedom from trying to be perfect to deserve His love, which I could never do, to resting in what Christ did for me. God accepted me the way I was, warts and all. I no longer lived separated from God, but began a relationship/friendship with God. I no longer fear death because I know that if I were to die, God has made a way for me to go to heaven. God not only promises heaven after death, but promises to make life on earth worth living. God gave me purpose in life, to honor Him all my days.
The final similarity: Even though the miners went from darkness to light immediately, they still had to adjust their lives to the change. They wore sun glasses to protect their eyes. My life also changed from spiritual darkness to light when I asked Jesus to forgive me, but I am continuing to adjust to my new life in Christ. God isn’t done with me yet. He’s fixing me, warts and all, to be more like Christ.
I praise God everyday for my rescue story. I would be nothing without Christ. Life would be futile trapped in sin’s dark mine. You, too, can have a Life giving rescue story. Have you realized you are trapped? Are you trying to work your own way out? Have you accepted God’s only rescue plan, Jesus? If you have questions, you can call 1-888-JESUS-2000.
Final challenge for those already rescued: What if only one man in the mine knew the rescue plan, but refused to tell the others about it? Suppose he left in the middle of the night, leaving the others to perish. If you know the plan, when was the last time you shared the plan with someone else?
My rescue was only the beginning of my journey.