There is nothing like a brush with death to appreciate life. Some years back our family went camping in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. We pitched our tents, ate over the open fire, and hiked the trails. One day we decided to go tubing down a series of rapids near our campground. Zachary, our youngest child, was just three years old. I'll repeat that for emphasis: Z was three!
I am not sure where I lost my brains between the campground and the rapids, but I know I did because I let Zachary go tubing with me without a life jacket. If there were a Stupid Parenting Hall of Shame, I would have been a candidate for immediate induction.
No sooner did we hit the first bit of white water than I lost control of the tube and Zachary. Talk about chaos and commotion! He was screaming. My heart was racing. I grabbed hold of him; he grabbed hold of me. At the same time, I was trying to lasso the runaway inner tube with my free arm, and yell for help. It was pure pandemonium! Had I not been able to snatch him he would have quickly disappeared in the cold dark water. I could have lost him. A three-year-old in a churning river would have been utterly helpless. By the grace of God, I grabbed him before the river did.
Zachary is now twenty-six. Last time I checked, he remembered the day the river almost swallowed him, but it doesn’t make him shiver. There is something about the passing of time that softens the most harrowing experience; that makes it less intense, less life-and-death, less real! I think the same thing can happen with my salvation. The farther removed I get from the day God snatched me from death, the less I stand in awe and wonder at how utterly helpless I was to save myself. That’s why I like Paul’s reminder:
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.(Romans 5:6-9 NLT)
Spiritually speaking, I was a goner! Like my son, I was completely unable to rescue myself. The river of sin was ushering me toward certain judgment. But Jesus reached out, grabbed me, and brought me to salvation’s shore. That is incredible! But what blows my mind is this: I was a sinner--God's enemy--when he pulled me out of the river. I had turned my back on God. Yet, his love is so great he was willing to rescue me, even though to save me he had to sacrifice his Son.
Like I said, there is nothing like a brush with death to appreciate life. Thank you, God, for rescuing me!