With fall and all its activities revving up again with the advent of school in our area, it won’t be long before we’re looking back wistfully on this past summer. And if we have managed to have some sort of “vacation”, we’ll soon be longing for “the good ol’ summer time” to return? I really don’t mind the booking of a place to stay in areas that all seem to be having conventions during the time we were planning to go; the packing of every food item, utensil, and shred of clothing that we just might need (but generally don’t); the preemptive car maintenance in which I do more damage than good; the cramming of children into an overburdened vehicle that literally groans when I finally manage to mash the back hatch closed; the long, long miles of driving while running out of “fun” travel games after only an hour of driving; and the incessant cries of “Are we there yet?” and “Oops! I hope that doesn’t stain the seat!”. Other than those things, vacations are great (so I’ve heard). Of course, it’s always good to get home and get back to work (so you can finally rest).
A few years ago, our family had managed to take a few days off and go away to see some new things. The trip was very, very pleasant actually. There were all sorts of things to do and enough room in our schedule for us to not feel hurried and stressed. It could have easily turned into a tragedy however. We had all gone to the facility’s indoor pool (which has always been a huge favorite with our children). We found it crowded but managed to find a nook or two in which we could splash around a bit.
It just so happened that while my wife was busy in another part of the pool with our littlest one, another of our children (who was about four at the time), was busy playing with me in the shallow end of the pool while the place was filled with the laughter and splashing of dozens of people together in that large room. After we had been there awhile, I thought that we might take a rest and go and check on our other family members. When my son and I climbed out of the pool, I looked to see where my wife was so we could join her.
As soon as my gaze was bent elsewhere, my son apparently saw her first and made a dash to join her. I suddenly heard the slapping of little wet feet on the ground and when I looked back down, I saw that my son had zoomed off across the room along the edge of the pool towards his mother who as carrying our youngest while she walked through the water. I started after him, but just as I did so, he got to the deeper end and, without any hesitation at all, jumped in. I was running after him at this point and as I drew near to him, I could see him bobbing up and down in the water, his eyes above its surface but not quite able to get his nose up even though he was trying with all his might. That image is still burned into my mind. No one else seemed to notice him, but there he was… ready to drown if I hadn’t been racing towards him to pull him out of the water. His mother had also seen his plunge and was moving as quickly as she could towards him.
I jumped into the water too – much to the chagrin of those nearby who got splashed, but I didn’t care because my little son desperately needed me. I scooped him up out of the water and must have squeezed any water in his lungs out of him when I hugged him. After my wife and I made sure that he was all right and gave him the obligatory scolding (not that he really needed it anymore), we all climbed out together, having decided that we had all had as much fun in the water as we needed that day.
Maybe, in its own small way, the experience refreshed for me the deep urgency from which our heavenly Father regards men and women, boys and girls in our homes, our churches, and our communities. The Gospels, in telling the story of Jesus’ earthly ministry, His teachings, and ultimately His crucifixion and resurrection, paint the vivid picture of a Father who is urgently seeking to save those who are spiritually perishing.
This is the hope that we really find in the Holy Scriptures. God is on the move, seeking to save each one who is willing to be saved. And because a lot of different folks had even then, just as they do now, a lot of different ideas about what God’s anointed messenger would be like and what He would do, He explained it very succinctly and very simply “… The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10 NAS).
And just who is lost anyway? Sadly, we all are until we come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:6 NAS). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23, 6:23 NAS).
Until we’ve each received this “free gift of God”, we are each literally drowning in our sin, perhaps bobbing up and down as we try to rise above it, but in the end, it takes the strong arm of God Himself to do the saving. And how He longs to do just that!
“And He (Jesus) told them this parable, saying, ‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and hast lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance’” (Luke 15:3-7 NAS).
Just like Jesus tried to break through the hard-heartedness of folks who erroneously thought they had no need for repentance, so He reaches out to us today, reminding us that we might be thinking that we’re going to be fine as we try to stand on our spiritual tiptoes, but are, in fact, in over our heads. “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10 NAS). If the reality of your need for Jesus’ love and forgiveness has hit home, and you find that you’re not only ready to give up trying to live your life on your own, but are also aching for the saving grace of God to enter into your heart, then carefully consider God’s promise in Romans 10:9 and 10, “… If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
And if you have already been lifted up from the murky waters of your sin, then don’t be content with being saved alone, but look around the “pool” of your life and see who else is in need of the Father’s gift of salvation.