But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus --Ephesians 2:4-6 (NIV)
Every now and then my job affords me the opportunity to get away from my desk and participate in some outdoor field work. Last August I had a field assignment at Camp Pendleton. It was an uneventful week for the most part, but an encounter with some wildlife gave me a good story to tell and certainly a lot to think about.
The pipe extended about 4 or 5 feet straight down. There are the bottom was a helpless young rabbit, obviously exhausted and starved. One of my coworkers and I set to work with two long poles, essentially trying to maneuver the fluffy creature out of the hole. Using the poles much like giant chopsticks, we coaxed the rabbit higher inch by inch until finally it was within arm's reach.
Before the rabbit had time to react, I plunged my hand down the hole and grabbed hold of its ears. I fully expected it to scream or at least struggle. Once I set it down on the pavement, it stood there for a moment, likely dazed and confused from the whole ordeal. I gently nudged the frightened rabbit to encourage it to hop away. With three great leaps it bounded through the chain link fence and back into the safety of the nearby vegetation.
For the remainder of the day, my nickname was "rabbit savior."
Ever since that day, I've thought a lot about how similar we are to that rabbit. We are more than just exhausted and starved--each of us is dead in our sins. We are stuck at the bottom of a vertical pipe with no possible way to save ourselves. God wants to rescue us, but since He cannot look upon sin, we remain just out of arm's reach. However, God mercifully provides us with a way out and a means to bridge that gap between the bottom of the chasm where we are and where He sits in glory. God sent His son, Jesus, to be our Savior.
Because Jesus is both human and divine at once, he is simultaneously connected to the humanity of earth and the divinity of heaven. Jesus reaches down to grasp hold of our ears with one hand while pointing to our place in heaven with the other. Like the rabbit in the pipe, we have no means of grabbing hold of anything. When Christ extends grace to us, He is the one doing all the work. This is part of His power and glory. If we were able to save ourselves somehow, the magnitude of the work done on the cross would be severely diminished. In fact, it would be nullified.
I don't usually go sticking my hand down holes that contain wild animals--I'm accident prone enough as it is! In this particular instance, I'm glad that God found a way to teach me a valuable object lesson in order that I may better understand the reality of salvation and what it means that I was dead in my sins.
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