A couple months back I received a copy of a book in the mail from Our Daily Bread Ministries. It was entitled, "The Good Life - 15 Stories of Finding Hope." The first part of the title, "The Good Life" could be taken many ways, so I ventured into it to see what I would find. As with all books containing short stories, some are better than others. And, yes, that is a subjective evaluation. What touches me might not touch you in the same way, and visa-versa.
That said, I chose one of the stories that resonated with me, for it took me back to a similar experience I had at 24 when I found myself hanging on for dear life from the side of a cliff, back in a steep mountain jungle ravine, in the Dominican Republic -- with no one around for miles and about 200 feet between me and the rocky riverbed below. In scaling the cliff I had gotten myself into a predicament where the only way to safety required that I let go of what I was clinging to and drop 6-8 feet onto a leaf covered ridge only about 2 feet wide. If it was firm I was secure, if not, it would be a long fall. The fact that I'm even writing this to you tells you, as Paul Harvey was fond of saying, "the rest of the story." Maybe that's why I resonated with this man's story. I hope you will too. It is written by Russell Fralick, who went on to become pastor of Windermere Community Church and authored the book, "Over the Top." Enjoy.
"A young mountaineer was so full of self-reliance that he believed he needed nothing and no one. He certainly had no need for God. But one night he stood on the edge of a sheer cliff 1,000 feet above the valley floor, rope gone, best friend missing and presumed dead, rain pouring down, and the pitch black of night engulfing him. With everything he had relied upon gone, and with no hope of survival, he came face-to-face with the certainty that he was about to die. Then the rock he was standing on began to collapse, and he knew he had seconds to live.
He was unprepared for death, and in his hopelessness this unbelieving, arrogant man cried out to God to save him. He needed a God who could move heaven and earth (an all-powerful God) and a God who would move heaven and earth -- for someone who didn't even believe in Him (a compassionate, loving and forgiving God). He also needed a God who would act quickly, without him having to earn His affection. He needed a God who was zealous and passionate in His love for him, a God who was concerned about him as an individual.
I certainly would not have helped a person like that, but thankfully God is not like me, because He did help. I know, because that man was me.
I asked a God I didn't believe in to rescue me, and as I stepped off the mountainside, a rope that I could not see was in my hand. After that, He guided me down a sheer rock wall in pitch black darkness, negotiating crumbling granite and a waterfall, until I reached the bottom -- without even a scratch! That's not just improbable, it's impossible.
Only the God of the Bible is both all-powerful and all-loving at the same time. No other religion or faith system can make this claim. He is powerful enough to move heaven and earth, and He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to give His life for us.
God is holy and His standard is perfection. All the wrong things that each and every person has ever done -- our sins -- have separated us from Him. And (therefore) we need someone to pay for our wrongdoings, because we cannot pay the price ourselves. God, because of His great love for us sent Jesus to earth to rescue us from sin and bring us into a relationship with Him. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth and then endured death on a cross to pay for our wrongdoings. When we ask God to forgive us, He puts all of our blame onto Jesus and He puts all the righteousness of Jesus onto us, so that we can stand before a holy God clean and pure.
Are you in need of rescue? Admit to the Lord that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself. Then accept (by faith) His free gift of salvation that promises forgiveness and life with Him forever."