Rescue isn’t easy

Most likely, you’ve heard the story of the Thai boys  rescued from a flooded cave complex after three weeks of imprisonment underground. The world anxiously watched as the operation to bring them home intensified. It’s rare that a bike ride between soccer games becomes world news, but twelve kids and their coach found themselves on the global center stage.

This post isn’t about them.

To be precise, I want to talk about how I followed this story, and how much we can learn from it.

I remember seeing something on the news about a soccer team that was missing in Thailand. I didn’t read the story, just the headline. It was sad news, and I didn’t expect a happy ending. If news sources in Thailand felt this was a big story, often that’s a sign of a bad outcome. At the same time, I didn’t think I would hear anything more about it. That’s why I was surprised when I did.

Nine days into the ordeal, I hear good news. They’ve been found. I thanked God, and went on with my day. I imagined the relief their families felt. That’s when I learned they were boys, and boys that were the same age as my son. I was more thankful. I didn’t think I would hear anything more about it. The story had ended, and all was well.

I should have read the whole story.

I was surprised to hear that they weren’t rescued. They were found. I picked up the fact that they were in a cave. My mental picture of that cave was completely different from Tham Luang Nang Non cave. The team wasn’t near the opening, they were almost two miles inside. On top of that, it’s the monsoon season in Thailand. The cave was known to flood easily.

To summarize: they were lost, they were found, but they weren’t safe. Time was short, and hope was fading. This wasn’t just a problem. It was a problem that seemed to nearly impossible.

Every fact that the press shared made the gravity of the situation more clear. Flood waters were rising. Oxygen levels were dropping. The path to safety was narrow, dark, and difficult. Even highly skilled divers would be pushed to the limits of their abilities. One of those divers lost his life. Some of the boys couldn’t swim. None of them had any experience with scuba gear. There was no easy way out. The only path to life was difficult.

You know how the story ended, but in the middle of the unfolding drama, I saw some similarities with another insurmountable problem.

(A)ll have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 (HCSB)

We’re cut off from God. We’re not separated from God by a small distance. Jesus described it as “a great chasm.” There is hope, and Jesus gave us this hope.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 (HCSB)

Here’s the problem that is so similar to the real-life drama in Thailand. We skim over the story of the gospel, we know we are destined for hell without Jesus. We make a decision, pray a prayer, walk down the aisle, and everything is OK.

Seeing Jesus doesn’t save you. Following Him does.

Many people live life trapped in a cave and don’t realize the gravity of their own situation. Some of you might point to the previous Scripture and disagree. Think about what Jesus told the disciples:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6 (HCSB)

Jesus calling Himself “the way” is the catch. It’s what drives the statement. Remember, the disciples didn’t know where He was going. They needed to know, because they followed Him. Many people saw Jesus. The disciples understood the importance of actually following Him. By the way, following Jesus isn’t easy.  Think about this:

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

Luke 14:27 (HCSB)

Salvation isn’t just about guaranteeing a spot in heaven. It’s about choosing to lay down all you are at the feet of Jesus, and follow the only way to life. Following Him will lead you through dark and difficult places.

“How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

Matthew 7:14 (HCSB)

Many people in a sanctuary on any given Sunday would never want that way. That’s why so few follow Jesus. If Jesus is the truth, and He talks about the difficulty of following Him, why do so many choose the wider path? The lie of your best life now is leading you to destruction. You’re not rescued. You’ve seen the rescuer. Salvation comes through following Him, and safety isn’t guaranteed until we see Him face to face.

Could you even imagine any of those boys trapped in that cave being happy just sitting there in obvious danger? Why would any of them choose to stay? I don’t know that anyone would make that particular choice.

Too many people are making an equally deadly choice with eternal consequences, feeling secure staying where they are. The path to salvation requires you to move. Don’t stay in the cave.

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