Rescue Ahead

…only when the Christian charges hell in all its ugliness and fury, is he rescued.

lion fire

Acts 26:17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I now send you to them

Hurricane Harvey slammed into the coast of Texas last month bringing with it nearly 10 trillion gallons of water setting records of costly damage. For many who failed to evacuate, rescue was their only hope. From military led chopper rescues to fishermen in their flat-bottom boats, countless responded to the need extracting people from their rooftops, rescuing them from the rising waters.

Normally, that’s how a rescue works. Extraction. Whatever the danger be, whether flood, earthquake, or fire, rescue entails an escape from the danger, an extraction from impending peril.

Imagine for a moment that you’re that person, the one in need standing on the second floor of your house with water at your feet. You’re frantically looking out your upstairs window for a boat when a man swimming in the water appears and speaks to you as he treads. “I want you to walk downstairs. I’ll meet you at your front door. I have a small submarine you can get into.”

Wouldn’t you respond, “Walk downstairs?! I’d have to swim! It’s underwater!”

How ludicrous.

Or imagine that while retreating to your log cabin in Montana,  a forest fire breaks out. You’re surrounded and alone as the encompassing wall of flames slowly encroaches. Suddenly, a chopper appears from the swirling smoke overhead and slowly lowers a man in a carriage. Ah! The relief you feel at the sight of it! Your rescuer steps out of the carriage and before you can jump in, it’s pulled up into the sky disappearing with the chopper.  You look quizzically at the man who stands in front of you with his hand outstretched.  “Uh, what’s your plan?” you ask. “Take my hand,” he says. There’s a pool of water right over there that will keep us safe.” Not seeing anything of the like, you ask, “Where?” He points into the fire. “Just beyond that wall of flames.”

Ludicrous!

Now indulge me once more. Imagine you’re a target, like one those faux deer with a bulls-eye painted on its flank except there’s nothing artificial about you. You’re living flesh and blood. You didn’t use to have this target on you, but it’s there now and it’s been sealed on you in a way that you can never wash it off. It’s a distinguished mark that all can see.  And hunting season has just opened. While you’re working on a way to hide the mark and hide yourself, a man with a bucket of paint appears.  Ah! What a simple rescue! “Put a swath of that paint over this mark of mine, would you? Even a little may save my life.” But the man just begins to paint along the ground at your feet, on your floor, out the sidewalk, down the street. “What are you doing? Where are you going!?”

Not taking his eye from the path he paints, this stranger responds, “Follow this path and I’ll rescue you.”

“Where does it lead?”

“To the hunters’ lodge.”

Ludicrous!

Yet it’s what Jesus instructed Paul. “I will rescue you from your people and the Gentiles. I now send you to them…”

Ludicrous!

It is common sense to assume that a rescue always involves an extraction, but for the Christian, man’s common sense rarely applies.

The rescue for the Christian takes place when he charges into the flood for there and then is a standard raised.

The rescue for the Christian takes place when he charges into the fire, for there and then is a fourth man found.

Likewise, only when the Christian charges hell in all its ugliness and fury, is he rescued; for his rescue is not an extraction by God, but in the presence of God. And where but at the gates of hell where the fires are hot and the flood waters high should we expect to find Him? He is where He is needed. Then and there is God found. Then and there are we rescued.

How ludicrous.  Let’s go.