Read Romans 5:6-11; Galatians 1:3-5; Colossians 1:12-14
All over the world, people were anxiously watching and following the details. Until the last week in June, I had never heard of a youth soccer team in Thailand called the Wild Boars. That all changed when twelve boys and their coach were trapped in a cave. The oxygen was dwindling, and monsoon rains threatened to make their rescue impossible. Near the cave, people congregated. Food was cooked, and rides were offered. Toilets were set up and cleaned. Meanwhile in the cave, one boy who everyone called "Night" was to celebrate his birthday on the day that they became trapped in the cave. His SpongeBob SquarePants cake was kept in the refrigerator while his family waited for his homecoming. These were ordinary young people with every-day stories, and people everywhere longed to see them rescued. We shared sadness when a retired Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Gunan died as he was on mission to deliver oxygen to the trapped boys. We wondered as several options were discussed concerning how the boys and their coach might be safely brought out of the darkness. Finally, a plan was made and carefully implemented. We were so glad when we heard that the last boys and their coach had been safely extricated. In Thailand, people celebrated with honking horns and cheers. After being taken to the hospital, the Wild Boars were thin but healthy, except for some having minor lung and eye infections. What could be better than knowing that each of those who faced such peril are, or soon will be safely in the arms of those who love them?
May I suggest one truth that is even sweeter because its implications are eternal. We have a God Who not only longs to rescue, as wondrous as that is. He is the Rescuer, Colossians 1:12-14. Why isn't this news exciting to so many? There may be many reasons, but as I thought about the Thai rescue, a few possibilities came to me.
So many folks don't yet know that there is a need for God to rescue them. Oh, how I understand that. I didn't know that I wasn't in God's family. After all, I went to church and though I knew I did wrong things, I didn't know if any of my bad actions were really bad enough to keep me away from God, but what does the Bible say?
I would have been surprised at God's assessment of my life, if someone had sat down with me and talked about Romans 5:6-11. There we read that each of us is helpless and powerless before God. Like those trapped in the cave, if someone wouldn't have come to rescue me, I would have perished. I was in the dark concerning all of that. I was as helpless as those folks whose oxygen was waning and whose hope was quickly lessening. Oh, if only someone would have told me about Romans 5:8, one of the "but God" verses. That's where we truly see the love of the Rescuer. Those precious people who freed those trapped in the cave risked their lives for children they didn't know. Here's the wondrous thing I didn't know. God knew me. Every sin and every flaw. Nothing was hidden from Him. Yet, Jesus died, taking the penalty for my sin on Himself. What a Rescuer.
Another possibility. So many folks do not know that God's planned love for them was in place before they were even born. Again, how I relate to that. To think I had no clue that God had revealed in the Bible, His plan to send Jesus to rescue us. We were in His mind even before Adam and Eve were sent out of Eden. Before God made them coats of skin, He spoke of His planned rescue and that victory was a certainty, Genesis 3:15. As wonderful as the Thai rescue plan was and as beautiful as the outcome was, success was never certain. If only folks knew that God's heart of love for them was revealed throughout the scriptures and that His successful completion of His rescue mission was never in doubt.
One more possibility. So many folks don't know that the Rescuer has promised an amazing kingdom where those who will receive His rescue will live with Him forever, John 14:1-3. Oh, that was something else I didn't know. I had heard of heaven, but I never thought of it as a real place, populated by real people. As precious as the homecomings of the Thai people surely are, the Lord offers a never-ending heavenly country, Revelation 21-22. Although we don't know every detail of what Jesus has prepared for us, we know He has promised us that we will have full and never-ending joy, Psalm 16:11.
Think of it. Rescues are going on all around us. The angels are celebrating each one individually, Luke 15:10, even though so many are oblivious to the miraculous rescues here on earth. All of us who have been rescued have more to celebrate than those who were freed from the cave. We know the Rescuer, and there is not any person whose life He doesn't want to bring out of the darkness. Maybe as it was with me, many we love don't even know they are in danger because they don't belong to Jesus. They don't comprehend the truth that God's wrath is still upon them, John 3:36. All praise belongs to the Lord because part of setting people free is the fact that He opens their eyes to understand that they are in need of rescue. Oh, that they would know the Good News. The Rescuer is seeking them, Luke 19:10. His loving plan is in place, and the work on their behalf is completed, John 19:30.
Lord, Thank You for allowing us to tell others about the most awesome Rescuer Who ever had a plan. Give us Your heart of love for all who don't yet even know they have this need. Help us to not stop thanking You for bringing us safely into the kingdom of light, Colossians 1:13.