My Resurrection Rescue
We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
I appreciate Paul’s honesty in this account of his near death experience. Even the great Apostle Paul doubted God in the darkness. Even the one who wrote most of the New Testament was trusting in his own strength to get him through the disaster. Even the one who saw the risen Savior on the road to Damascus wondered if the Resurrection God would truly rescue him this time around. Paul makes it clear, his deliverance did not come through his sterling faith, his accurate perspective, or his own prayers. Paul was alive to write this letter because of the Resurrection Jesus and the prayers of the church that pulled him free of the depths of destruction.
Oh, how we need the Resurrection Reality of Jesus and people around who don’t stop praying to this Savior… even when we do! I didn’t think I was going to make it. I realized too late that I was being pulled out by the rip tide out past the breakers at Laguna Beach, California. The waves kept crashing over my head and I couldn’t get a big enough breath to fill my straining lungs. Instead, I was breathing in salt water and drowning in fear. My arms and legs were burning as the oxygen they so desperately needed was withheld. I used every breath I had left to yell for help. When I realized we were on a private beach below the cliffs and far from any help I then, only then, cried out to God. Why did it take me so long? I’m a Bible believing, Spirit-filled Christian and was, at that time, attending Life Bible College in training for the ministry. Why hadn’t I cried out to Jesus when I first realized how far away from shore I was? Same reason Paul didn’t. I thought I could save myself. That’s why Paul writes that the best thing for them was when they ran out of other options. Their own strength and wits were not going to get them through. They “were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!”. It’s when I finally cried out to God that I saw the rescue come. What are the chances that one of the only other people on the beach that day was an off-duty life guard? A one-in-a-million God chance! In between the crashing waves I saw this man sprinting from the other side of the beach having heard my cry for help. In what seemed like mere seconds he was out in the middle of the deep with me. Swimming by my side he coached me all the way in. He calmed me down when I was panicking. I told him I was done. He told me I wasn’t. He told me to focus on the shore. He warned me to hold my breath when the next wave was about to crash over me. I looked at my wife Cyndi on the shore praying for me in between encouraging shouts that I was going to make it. I looked at my cousins who were praying on the shore. I found out later that God had my Mom interceding for me and stopping her right in the middle of what she was doing at home. She didn’t know the reason of the urgency but she did know not to ignore the source of the request. “Pray now for Jon!” So, while I didn’t pray until it was my last resort I was surrounded but those who made prayer their first response. I am here writing this Journal entry today because I was rescued by the Resurrection Jesus and the prayers of the saints. When I finally made it to shore my lungs and muscles were burning. I was hugging that sand and filled with so much joy I know I was getting a small glimpse of what it will feel like one day to wake up on Heavens shores. When I finally got on my feet I wanted to thank the off-duty lifeguard but he was no where to be found.
I pray for those who feel they are about to go under right now. I return the favor paid to me on that day under the waves. I pray for the ones still trying to figure their way out of the mess by their own wits and strength. Let them cry out to You right now and know they have been heard. I pray for those who have just resigned themselves to sink under the next wave thinking no one will come for them. Let them hear Your voice coaching them back to shore. I pray that they would cry out to You right now in the midst of their pain, despair, hopelessness and heartache and find that the Resurrection Jesus is right there in the water with them! Let each who feels alone be surrounded by the payers of Your Saints. I pray that this Easter Sunday would be their return to Your shores, Your strength, Your salvation. Instead of surrendering to the waves they would surrender to You and find their freedom from the fear so convincing. Let us all be convinced afresh and anew at the power of the Cross over sin, death, and Hell and the reality of the Resurrection to bring us through the most impossible situations. This is who You are! This is what You do! You are my Resurrection Rescue.