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Entries in rescue (2)


The surprising advantage of setbacks.

I've had several very snarky conversations with God lately.  I really don't like him much right now.  As Mother Teresa said, "God would have more friends if he treated the ones he as better."

Why?  In one week, my family and I are making an 800-mile move to the town of our dreams.  God has endorsed it and confirmed it.  But, he's asked us to go without a job in place.  Heck, we don't even know where we'll be living, yet.  During the last year of trying to sell our house, we've faced setback after setback:  the first contract fell through.   Then, we found out that the house we were hoping to rent in the new town was being managed by a guy with a shoddy reputation, and there weren't any other rental listings.  Then a great house came open, I flew 800 miles to see the house and sign a lease with a new realtor.  I got back home waiting for the lease to to be completed so I could sign-off, and got a call from my realtor that the owner sold the house out from under us.  The owner was secretly entertaining a buyer while saying he would rent to us.

Now, the only house available has a hole in the porch wall, concrete debris piled up in the yard, has a nasty hole in the siding, and is swallowed by overgrown hedges so that you can't even see the house from the street.  Ah, the joy of renting.

As Philip Yancey wrote, "God would rather we wrestle with him than ignore him."  So, as I ranted and raged against God (believe me, it wasn't pretty), the thought occured to me:  Perhaps God is allowing the setbacks and disappointments because he wants me to have the experience of being rescued.  Without the setbacks, there's no opportunity for rescue.  Rescue requires uncertainty, helplessness and hardship:  "Jim, I want you to know that I can come through for you.  The setbacks create the opportunity to experience that."




River rescue - how I almost drowned and what it taught me

Three years ago, I almost drowned.  I was rafting on a Class Five river when our raft hit a boulder and we were hurled out.  Our brief Rafting 101 talk we received back at base camp did nothing to prepare me for the shock of icy water, the panic of drowning, or the continuing slap of brown river water I was choking on. 

I tried to estimate whether I could swim laterally against the current to either bank.  Not a chance.  It was too far.   My guide and raft were too far up river to pull me out, the current having carried me too quickly away from our raft.  My only hope was another guide's raft about 50 yards ahead.  Would he see me?  I had no strength or ability to contribute to my hope of rescue.  The water was strong and fast.  I was powerless and in danger of drowning.   And as they say, the orange life jacket just makes it easier to find your dead body. 

Thankfully, the other boat saw me.  I don't know how the guy pulled my soaking, 6 feet- 2 inch, dead- weight body out of the water, but he did.

Later, while sorting through everything that happened God said, "Jim -- this wasn't about your failure to handle the situation.  It wasn't about your capacity at all.  It was about my ability to rescue you." 

This is the Gospel.  This is the ongoing nature of the Christian life -- Jesus' ability to 'save' us didn't simply cease after we said 'yes' to his offer to "save us from our sins."

We need the experience, not simply the idea or hope of being rescued.  Through these experiences of rescue, we gain a perspective that is more real and confident than the one we had on paper.  We can only gain that experience by taking the risks God is asking us to -- by placing ourselves in situations (again, when God counsels us to take the risk) where unless he rescues us, we're toast. 

Is there anything he's asking you to risk, so that you can experience more life?