I want to be responsive to the warning signs...before I need a dramatic rescue!
A few nights ago I was at the pool with the kids. In the distance the sky looked a little dark. A couple times I thought I heard a very low rumble of thunder. But no one else said or did anything. The lifeguard didn't look concerned. A friend from church who helps run the pool was there, and she didn't look concerned. Everyone just continued on as they were. So I didn't worry. I stood in the pool, making funny faces at my six month old, trying to make her laugh out loud again. I looked at the sky a couple times because there was this nagging feeling that maybe that dark cloud way off was bringing a storm our way. But others kept on with a relaxed expression, so I did too.
And then the rain came. Huge, fat drops -- plopping rapidly and then pouring down suddenly. We got out and hurried to the covered tables to get out of the rain. As my kids speed-walked over to get their towels the thunder cracked loud and a bright flash of lightning zipped across the sky. The storm was on us. I had waited too long. I had missed...ignored actually...the warning signs of an approaching storm. And we had walked to the pool! I was stuck outdoors in a huge thunderstorm with four children and no car. As my four-year-old cried, and the older kids looked at me wide-eyed, I called my husband. But he was an hour drive away.
We threw our stuff in the bag and braved the soaking rain as we ran to the concrete bathroom area. Just us, the lifeguard, and the friend from church. The rain kept coming hard and fast and the lightning and thunder kept crashing loud and scary. I tried to smile and talk positively as my four-year-old kept crying. Why hadn't I responded to the warning? Dark sky, distant thunder, late afternoon in the coastal south. I know that signals a storm. I should not have been caught unaware. And yet here I was -- stuck at the pool with no ride and four scared children.
But this can happen so easily in our lives. Warning signs are on the horizon -- maybe its the third or fourth Sunday we've missed church because we were "just too tired". Maybe we haven't had time for a deep, intimate time with the Lord for days, then weeks, and now months. Maybe we're getting snappy with others. Easily frustrated. Edgy. But we write it off as just a little stressed; overwhelmed. It will get better. We'll be ok. Tomorrow we'll try harder. We hit the bed with an "I'm sorry, Lord. Please help me do better tomorrow." And we drift off to sleep. Day after day. Until our souls are dry. Our hearts are brittle. Our relationships are strained. We can't remember the last time we sat with the Lord and soaked in His Word. Soaked in His grace. Faced our sin head-on and repented fully. And now the storm is upon us. We've missed the warning signs and here we are. Temptation is no longer a distant rumble. A full-out wreckage seems to be raining down. The world, temptation, exhaustion, weakness. We try to keep smiling, but what we really want to do is sit down and cry like a four-year-old. We try to press on; try to pull it together. But the wind is blowing and our towel keeps getting wet. The storm is all around us and we have such a long walk home. Off in the distant sky we see some light and we know the storm should end soon. We'll just ride it out. We'll stay where we are. We'll hope for the best. But each time we think its almost passed, there's that thunder again. Still surprisingly close.
And that's when it happens. The rescue.
For us at the pool it was my eighty year old neighbor. Right at the height of the storm he popped his head around the corner of our hideout and relief filled my heart. Before he could say "Anyone need a ride?!", I already knew why he was there. He came for me. He came to rescue me and my kids. To drive us home in the storm. In the moment I don't know how he knew, I'm just thankful that he did. At that moment I'm only aware of the fact that we really are going to be ok. We have a ride and we all pile in -- stroller, pool bag, four kids and me. I don't hear anymore thunder. I don't feel the rain. We're talking, laughing, thanking him. The details start unfolding. My husband had called. Said we were stuck at the pool. And so he came. We were fine. No one was crying anymore. We had been rescued.
And so the picture becomes clear. God does this for us...spiritually, physically, emotionally. He gives us the warning signs when sin is too close. When we start to drift and temptation becomes so...tempting. God allows the thunder and the dark sky to prod us out of the pool and home to safety. But if we ignore it -- if we stay where we are and suddenly find ourselves in the storm of sin beating down upon us -- He won't leave us alone. He will -- He has! -- He does send a rescuer. God provides a way out and a way home.
Jesus offers the most dramatic rescue of all and saves us from all our sin. He conquered death and hell. He rescued our souls. And He continues to rescue us everyday. Even once we are saved, He still works to rescue us from the temptation that would seek to lead us astray. Praise God! Thank you Lord for every dramatic rescue! Let's repent and follow Him today.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (I Corinthians 10:13)
"Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:15)