Close your eyes and imagine….
…some people trapped in a life-threatening circumstance, with utter destruction looming every second.
…people separated from families and friends who love them dearly, who have children on the way, weddings coming or anniversaries to celebrate, a house to build or a degree to finish – each with unique stories and hopes for the future
…people who are in a place that is so endlessly dark and oppressive, so massively suffocating, that every hour that goes by sucks more life from their bodies and souls.
…people who are incapable of getting out of that place, who simply do not have what it takes to break past the crushing.
..people who are out-of-sight and easy to forget, but yet hoping someone will come rescue them.
…people who will die and be gone forever if no one comes.
…some other people become aware of the terror of their predicament.
… they feel compassion for the trapped, and their hearts are burdened over the pain, fear, doubt they’re experiencing… and the ultimate threat they face.
…they determine to go for a rescue—to get them out and bring them home.
…that first, they establish simple connection to maintain communication –an ongoing dialogue that respects the value of each person under threat and provides a constant flow of encouragement & information .
…they do their best thinking, planning and dreaming to figure out how to get to their friends; and they have to be really creative, because nobody’s ever reached people in exactly this sort of circumstance before.
…they pool their resources, forging partnerships with one focus: get them out and bring them home
..and then they work…hard, puzzling, persistent, consistent, exhausting, adjusting-on-the-fly, meticulous, dangerous, draining, urgent work.
…they work– directing and arranging details of the rescue, sweating in the grimy attempts to get closer, supporting those directing or sweating, or laboring in prayer, knowing that all of them are necessary.
…a breakthrough into the dark, suffocating place and assurance to the trapped that there is still a possibility to get them out and bring them home.
…there’s careful handling of these moments, because each life is precious and the rescue is precarious.
…a lifeline is let down from above; it has to come from outside because nothing inside will rescue, and it is the only way they will get out: there are no other options.
…the teamwork necessary to let down the lifeline—dozens of hands, hundreds of minds, millions of hearts.
…that the rescue reaches a critical point as one by one (not as a group or even in pairs, but individually), the threatened are pulled to safety.
Can you imagine…
…that a world would watch such rescues for hours, holding their breath and praying every inch, mesmerized by such a display of life and hope.
…that people on the surface would weep tears for those emerging from below, rivulets of joy coursing down faces for people they may not even know.
…that there would be cheers and applause and dancing and hugs and hand-shaking and flag-waving and jumping for joy and kneeling for gratitude.
…that there would be reunions with families and restoration of futures beyond imagining.
…what it would be like to witness resurrections and the transformed lives that follow?
….that everything you have just read is not about the miracle rescue of the thirty-three miners in Chile from a collapsed mine shaft 2300 feet deep, their way of escape blocked by 700,000 tons of rock.
..but is instead about the miracle rescue of sinners, billions of precious people lost and eternally separated from their Creator by the crushing weight of sin and the just wrath of Holy God.
…that it is about a people (Jesus’ church) going after them with focused passion, persistent work, reckless generosity of resources, intense creativity and a “whatever it takes” attitude to get them out and bring them Home to their heavenly Father.
…that increasing numbers of people encounter the reality that their only hope of rescue from the crushing, their only way to rise from the dead is by trusting Jesus’ gospel –death on a cross as a substitute and resurrection as victor over all soul threats for all peoples in all times..
…that Jesus’ people cast aside the emotionally stunted stoicism of dry eyes and bored hearts, instead pleading tearful prayers over yet-unfound lost and expressing unrestrained, unembarrassed, exuberant, leaping, weeping, cheering-until-our-throats-are-raw joy over those rescued.
Why imagine this? Because Jesus said…
…There is more joy in heaven over one sinner [in the dark crushing] who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance…there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:7,10)