Rescue: 1. To save someone from a a dangerous, distressing or desperate situation.
“Call on Me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you…” (Psalm 50:15)
This week I read story of a father who was a Coal Miner. One day he took his son down into the mine shaft and into the underground pit to show him where he worked. He said to his son “Wait here a minute in this area as I need to go along further into this tunnel.” While the son waited for his father to come back, the light in the mine failed and the little boy was left in pitch darkness. Naturally he started screaming for his father. Down the tunnel he heard his father’s voice command him to calm down and start walking towards his voice. But the boy cried that he could not see anything. His father asked him “Is the light on your helmet on?” The boy replied no, it wasn’t. The father then said “Turn it on”. The boy did as he was told but cried out that it only threw light one small step ahead of him and beyond that it was pitch black. His father replied to his son “Well, take that one step.”
Of course you can figure out the rest of this story. The boy took one tiny step forward and everything was still dark in front of him. With each step the boy took his father encouraged him to take one more until finally, following his father’s advice, one small step after the other, he reached the safety of his father’s strong arms.
There is only enough light for one step at a time.
I have been thinking a lot about taking steps in the darkness lately because it is so dark at 6am when I get up to run that I have found myself running much slower in order to make sure I don’t trip or twist my ankle on uneven footpaths or obstacles on the path (dog poop and rolled up newspapers are the usual culprits!). Running in the dark, even on familiar footpaths, is still fraught with danger. The light from the streetlights or passing cars only goes so far and there is always a period of darkness before the next streetlight casts its light or until the next car approaches. As we come into Winter I think I will have to seriously contemplate running with a light on my head!
There have been many times in my life that I have found myself in a dark place where the lights have been turned off and I find myself alone.
And screaming out God’s name in the pitch darkness.
Waiting to be rescued.
The Bible tells me that God’s word is the “lamp for my feet and the light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). Another translation says “Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.” (CEV)
I like how the Message expresses it: “By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.”
I don’t know about you, but every day I need a beam of light on the dark path that I walk. Especially when I find myself in dangerous, distressing or desperate situations. When I need to be rescued, God and His Word (the Bible) is the light that I need to follow. As I listen for (and hear) His voice I must then follow His commands and take the many small steps into His safe and loving arms.
I have found that, just like the lamp on the boy’s helmet only illuminates one step at a time, God only gives me enough light to see what’s ahead for the next moment. And honestly, I don’t like that! I’m a “big picture” person. I like to know what’s coming up. I like to see around corners. I like to stay in safe, well-lit areas. I like the map to be laid out and the path clearly labelled before I take one step forward. I like to be able to make decisions about which route to take, which short cuts to make and which roads to avoid.
I don’t like surprises.
But that’s not how God operates. Whilst He doesn’t want me to walk in darkness, He does want me to walk in faith. He wants me to surrender my own will (my desire to always be in control) over to Him. He wants me to reject the fear and doubt that threatens to overtake me when I’m in a dark place and don’t know which way to turn. He wants me to trust Him. Yes, it always comes back to trust. He wants me to trust Him day to day that even though the path will be crooked and uneven and full of obstacles and even though there will be times I am in danger of twisting my ankle on a rolled up newspaper or I might even step in smelly dog poop, He is still there with me, casting just enough light on the path ahead, for me to take one step at a time in a forward direction towards His plans and purposes for my life. Towards my destiny.
So why doesn’t He turn the lights up a little bit brighter? Why doesn’t He let me see a little further ahead?
Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing! I can honestly say that if God had shown me what was coming up ahead when we resigned from fulltime ministry and stepped out on the path of our new season, I would have totally freaked out! I never would have taken one step forwards. I would have panicked and cried out then and there to be rescued.
But God needed me to learn a few important lessons. And one of them was about obedience. He asked me to step out on the journey and then keep walking. He asked me to have faith in Him. During our difficult season, He just wanted me to love Him, to love His Word and to love His ways – His plans and His purposes for my life. He just wanted me to trust Him. And I admit that I wasn’t very good at that. It was a long lesson learned.
But finally, when I cried out to Him in my darkest hour (at that moment when I was ready to walk away from Him and His light) He rescued me. And ever since then He has honored me for my obedience of taking small step after small step along the dark path back into His safe, loving, strong arms.
“He brought me out into a large, spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my uprightness with Him; He compensated and benefited me according to the cleanness of my hands. For I kept the ways of the Lord; I am not guilty of turning away from my God. All His laws are before me; I have not turned away from His decrees. I have been blameless before Him and have kept myself from guilt and sin.
Towards the loving and loyal God will show Himself loving and loyal and with the upright and blameless He will show Himself upright and blameless. To the pure God will show Himself pure.
And the afflicted people He will rescue and deliver.
For You O Lord are my Lamp. You O Lord lighten my darkness. For by You I can run. By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is tried and tested and found true. He is a Shield to all those who trust and take refuge in Him.
God is my rock. He is my strong fortress. He guides the blameless in His ways and sets them free. It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer (firm and able) and causes me to stand secure and confident upon the heights. He provides a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.”
2 Samuel 22:20-37