In 1998 on a very hot summer day in an area in Brazil near the Amazon rain forest, Maria and her family were on vacation enjoying the beauty that is Brazil. Because the day was so very hot, Maria decided to cool off in the nearly river. Donning her sky blue bathing suit, Maria, her brother and father dove into the clear, pristine water. Unknown to her and her family members, an alligator was swimming towards her in its attempt to pull her under. In utter fear and hearing her screams for help, Maria’s father swam towards his terrified daughter to free her from certain death. Although the alligator was more than 8 feet in length, her father took on the animal with nothing more than his hands and his determination to save his only daughter. The alligator was much stronger than her father, but her father had no intentions of letting go. As Maria’s father struggled, an area fisherman noticed the struggled from his house. The fisherman went into his house, came back out with his rifle, made a quick sign of the cross, took aim and shot the alligator right between the eyes not once but twice.
Maria, bleeding and in shock, was immediately taken to the hospital in nearby Belem. After nearly eight hours of surgery, Maria survived even though she lost a great deal of blood. When visited by the fisherman who shot the alligator, Maria’s leg presented deep scars along with the sutures from the surgery. Although in a great deal of pain, Maria spoke to the fisherman thanking him for his brave act. The fisherman asked if she would be able to have surgery to remove most of her scars.
“I don’t know,” Maria said. “But take a look at my other leg. I have scars on my other one, too. I have them because my father held onto me and wouldn’t let go of me to be eaten by the alligator.”
All people and especially Christians on this Father’s Day can identify with Maria. Christians likewise have scars. Christians don’t have their injuries from an animal trying to consume them but the wounds we share given us by Jesus Christ. Jesus in His struggle with satan and satan’s forces of evil try to consume us as well. Everyday of our lives we freely swim in the waters of the world where dangers lurk all around us. Many people, including Christians, give into the alligators of sin without much of a struggle. But just like Maria’s father, Jesus refuses to let go. Jesus dove in, held onto humanity and went a step further—He sacrificed Himself willingly on a Cross to free us all from the alligator of sin. As in Maria’s case, evil sneaks up on us even thought the situation appears beautiful and safe.
The river of life is filled with challenges to our Christian faith. Satan constantly attacks whether it is on land or in the water. It does not matter. As we celebrate Father’s Day 2005 to honor the love, strength or memory of our earthly father, let us also give honor and thanks to our Heavenly Father who sacrificed Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. The greatest example of love ever demonstrated—Happy Father’s Day!!