...The storm came up so fast. I couldn't even see the shore. Before I knew it, I was in the water, coming up for air only to be thrown over by another churning wave. Thank God I had a life jacket on, because I cannot swim. Everything looked so hopeless I knew I was doomed. All I could see was dark and wild water. Just trying to get one more futile breath, I lost all track of time...
Then, suddenly, someone was with me. First I saw his outstretched hand and I tried to grab it. But, I couldn't make it. I cried out to the stranger, "Can YOU help me? I can't see you. I can't swim. I...." And, then I felt two strong arms around me and I heard his voice.
"Don't worry, I've got you."
Oh, he did, too. I felt so safe, all of a sudden. At least, if I were going to drown, I wouldn't be drowning alone.
He was a member of the Coast Guard. He dangled from a cable off the side of a helicopter. And, he held me tight as we were lifted from the water. Here he was, risking his own life to go after someone lost in the midst of a storm. I could never have made it, myself. My arms wouldn't be strong enough. But, his were....
This fictional excerpt from a writing challenge story I wrote for FaithWriters illustrates the plight of humanity lost. It came to mind when I read a recent facebook post quoted from a nineteenth century swami: "As the different streams all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord," he quoted from Hindu scriptures, "the different paths which men take ... crooked or straight, all lead to Thee!"
The one who posted this identified herself as one with "ecumenical roots." One of her friends responded that she couldn't agree with the swami, since "there is only one true living God and that relationship is only reached through a belief in Jesus Christ."
What struck me is that the religions of the world put the burden on the individual to find his own way through this often dark vale of tears called life. Even in some Christian circles the way to God is based on a list of "you must do this and that" in order to qualify, to somehow "merit salvation."
But, the remarkable difference in the Christian's life is realizing the 180-degree opposite perspective. We don't make a way in the wilderness, we cannot even find our way home. What we're all inclined to forget is that OUR way has been blocked! When Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden, they had no hope of overcoming the angels who barred the gate. Instead, Jesus turns the tables and He, the One who is The Way, comes to us rather than the other way around, because we cannot bridge the gap to come to Him!
Just as the drowning girl in the story is helpless to save herself, no matter how she struggles, so is all humanity. She needed the Lifeguard to come to her rescue, since she couldn't go to Him.
That is the message of Good News that we have been entrusted to bring to the world. In the words of the old Lutheran Hour broadcast, we are "bringing Christ to the nations." That assignment sounds like Jesus' words, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light." How much lighter the burden to bring Christ out to the nations, and let Him win hearts, than to think we have to do the work of bringing the nations to Jesus. But, I'm afraid that latter view is the heavy burden too many think is our responsibility.
Thanks be to God, the only Way to the Father has already been provided for us in Emmanuel, God with us!
You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out "Abba, Father." ---Romans 8:15
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. ---Galatians 5:1
Your insightful writing is a blessing to me. Yes, there is this ecumenical fog that is perversive of the fact that Jesus is the ONLY way, the only truth, and the only life. I have come to the point in recent years where I see more and more that we don't find the Lord. He finds us like the Coast Guard found the drowning lady. I am convinced that the Lord as Sovereign God reveals Himself to those whom He chooses and calls. Thus, I pray now that God will choose to reveal and call members of my family and friends who are not saved or who have left the faith and the church. Salvation begins and ends with the Father through His Son, our Lord and Savior. Thanks for this wonderful article. Blessings.