“In your distress you called and I rescued you…” Psalm 81:7 (NIV)
Walking on the beach, one sunny morning in Mexico, I came upon a man and his dog (or a dog and his man?) playing in the small waves. The mutt was anything but pretty. He looked like he was haphazardly put together; tail of a retriever, legs of a greyhound, body of a beagle and his head … well, it could only belong to a mongrel. In spite of his lacking beauty, the dog was glorious to watch. He bounced in and out of the water joyfully, then moved toward the tide pools. The man would point and the dog would investigate, jumping back with surprise occasionally because of some lively critter scurrying under his nose.
As I came closer, the dog bounded toward me, but with one sharp command from his master, the animal stopped. He waited patiently until the man came to him and gave him permission to seek my affection. He was irresistible and I gave him the pats and scratches he hoped for.
I complimented the man on his charming pet, especially his joy and obedience, and the man told me the story of adopting this creature. He had been vacationing with his family in this same beachfront condo exactly three years before when this tiny puppy wandered up to his children on the beach. His first response was to tell the kids not to touch the animal for fear of disease, but after getting a closer look, his heart softened.
“He was about the size of a half gallon milk carton and could barely lift his head,” said the man. “He was skinny and mangy, missing a lot of fur, and had gunky stuff in his eyes.” Hardly an appealing vision, but the man was moved to feed and water the little guy and finally persuaded by his children to bring him home with them.
“We took him to the vet and were told that with treatment he would likely survive, but without, he would die within two days,” the man continued. “We nursed him back to health over the next six months until he was completely well and he’s been the best dog we’ve ever had. I’m still amazed sometimes that he picked us to save him.”
As I walked on down the beach, I thought about how blessed they were to have found each other. It occurred to me how much the man would have missed if he had walked away and left the ugly little puppy to die.
Isaiah 58:8 (NIV) says, “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”
Sometimes we are not very good looking and maybe have some gunky stuff around our hearts, but God doesn’t hesitate to pick us up and bring us the love and comfort we need to survive. Then he delights in the joy we bring him when we’re better.
“Dear Lord, help me remember that you don’t see me for what I am in sin or sickness, you see me for what I will be when I’m restored. You will never hesitate to pick me up when I’m unable to stand alone, no matter how unattractive I may be to others. Thank you, God, for your mercy.”
AUGUST 31, 2007
“They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them, he rescued them from the grave.” Psalm 107:19-20 (NIV)
As I was searching for a box in the attic, my 18 month old toddler slipped through a small hole in the 2nd story attic floor and landed in the garage about 15 feet below. Unfortunately that wasn’t the only time one of her injuries would land us in the emergency room in the years to come. But despite the fear and concern that her accidents have caused us over the years, God has used those incidences to show me not only His infinite love and protection, but also His power to perform miracles.
When my daughter fell from that 2nd story attic, disappearing through a hole which I was unaware of, I screamed and frantically rushed to where she had been standing. With horror, my heart sunk and fear filled every bone in my body as I helplessly watched her plunging to the hard concrete floor below. But her descent came to a halt with an unexplainable miracle. With my own eyes, I saw my baby gently bounce off of the hard concrete floor of the garage. It was as if she had landed on a big fluffy pillow of soft cotton, and just bounced off of it like a little feather.
Moments later after retrieving her from the garage floor, I realized she had a small bump on her forehead, but not a scratch, laceration, serious bruise, concussion or broken bone in her tiny little fragile body. The doctors could not logically or medically explain this phenomenon. They even questioned my husband and I as to whether or not she had really fallen 15 feet, especially since by the time we arrived in the emergency room, she had stopped crying and was acting like a normal happy baby at a routine checkup.
There is no other explanation for this miracle than God’s almighty hand at work. God’s mercy was with my child that day, and something besides the cold, hard concrete floor broke her fall. You see, I believe in my heart, that the strong and powerful hands of an almighty but gentle God, reached down at that exact moment in time and rescued her from imminent pain and possible death. This was God’s way of physically rescuing her and saving her from death, but it was a reminder to me that He is the ultimate rescuer of life.
When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I too was rescued by God. Rescued from death, from sin, from the emotional suffering of past mistakes, from the pain of trying to live life on my own and from spending an eternity apart from His love.
Several years ago, the Christian group NewSong sang a song called Arise, My Love, which is a powerful song about the risen Savior. It serves as a reminder tome of what we were rescued from when He arose. The chorus says: “Sin – where are your shackles?; Death – where is your sting? Hell – has been defeated! The grave could not hold the King.” The risen savior rescued us from those things, and we are victorious through our King!
If you are living a life apart from God; falling into sin, pain, sorrow, frustration, despair, or even just the overwhelming demands of life – you need a rescuer! Simply lift up your arms, seek Him with your full heart, and lay those problems at His feet. No sooner than your prayers fill the air, will He will throw down a life raft of love, mercy, protection, provision and compassion.
When we tell people that God wants to save them, they may immediately wonder why rescue is necessary. In their mind, they are in no immediate danger and therefore have no need of a Savior. Before a person can appreciate the good news, he or she has to understand the bad news.
Every one of us is in need of rescue because we are all sinful and worthy of God’s eternal condemnation and punishment. No matter how hard we try, “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12). This means that we lack the ability to make ourselves acceptable to God. In other words, we’re eternally doomed unless God Himself intervenes on our behalf. And that is exactly what He did.
In order to rescue fallen humanity, God ordained a plan for mankind’s salvation before He even created the world. Since His attribute of justice could not be set aside, an acceptable substitute was chosen to bear the condemnation and punishment that sinners deserved. The only one qualified for this mission was His beloved Son, who took on human flesh and lived a life without sin.
The gift of forgiveness and reconciliation to God is free to all who will receive Jesus Christ and believe He made atonement on their behalf. There is no condemnation for those who take refuge in Him. But those who reject His offer of salvation will have to bear the penalty for their sins themselves.
Christ did everything that was necessary to rescue us. All we have to do is believe and entrust our life to Him by faith.
Streams in the Desert – June 7
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
But no one says, ‘Where is God, my Creator, who gives songs in the night’ (Job 35:10)
Do you have sleepless nights, tossing on the hot pillow, and watching for the first glint of dawn? Ask the Divine Spirit to enable you to fix your thoughts on God your Maker, and believe that He can fill those lonely, dreary hours with song.
Is yours the night of bereavement? Is it not often at such a time that God draws near, and assures the mourner that the Lord has need of the departed loved one, and called “the eager, earnest spirit to stand in the bright throng of the invisible, liberated, radiant, active, intent on some high mission”; and as the thought enters, is there not the beginning of a song?
Is yours the night of discouragement and fancied or actual failure? No one understands you, your friends reproach; but your Maker draws nigh, and gives you a song—a song of hope, the song which is harmonious with the strong, deep music of His providence. Be ready to sing the songs that your Maker gives.
“What then? Shall we sit idly down and say
The night hath come; it is no longer day?
Yet as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars, invisible to day.”
The strength of the vessel can be demonstrated only by the hurricane, and the power of the Gospel can be fully shown only when the Christian is subjected to some fiery trial. If God would make manifest the fact that “He giveth songs in the night,” He must first make it night.