Rescue The Perishing

Rescue The Perishing

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Dane Entze and his wife were coming back from an anniversary getaway and decided to indulge in a bit of romantic nostalgia. They crossed Johns Hole Bridge in Idaho Falls, Idaho, spanning the Snake River. It was the site where they met for their first date, but on the morning of November 12 it was another sight that caught their attention. Dane’s wife noticed someone was driving their car into the river. They stopped their vehicle, and Dane crossed onto a ramp and began talking to a woman who was in the water, informing him that she was committing suicide. He told her, “I don’t know who you are, but I’m here and I love you and I’m going to help you.” As they talked, she began moving toward shore. But she got to the point where she stopped, saying she did not have the will to live. The air temperature was 19 degrees when Entze jumped into the icy water and brought the distraught woman to shore. He helped her dry off and warm up until first responders arrived. When interviewed, Entze said it was a matter of being at the right place at the right time. He drew on some military training and knowledge of the area, but he gave this advice. “Doing something kind is all it takes. You don’t have to do something dramatic or dangerous to help somebody else. Be vigilant” (Mythil Gubbi, Fox 13 News, Salt Lake City, UT).

Certainly, there is something to be said about suicide prevention. According to the CDC, suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in our nation, and over a million people attempted suicide in 2020. While mental illness can play a role, most often it is driven by despair and hopelessness. Love and support can be vital to encouraging those with such tendencies to find the help they need.

But, I would like us to consider another application. You and I, in traveling down life’s road, encounter so many who are in spiritual danger. They may or may not know it, but they need to be rescued. We benefit greatly from biblical training, but it takes even more than that. It requires us to do something, to be vigilant. They need to know we’re here, we love them, and we want to help them. If there is anything more lasting and impactful than saving a life, it is helping to save a soul.

One who “turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:20). God has given us the life preserver to save them (1 Cor. 1:21; Jas. 1:21). The word of the cross can save the perishing (1 Cor. 1:18), and the Bible makes it clear that God wants no one to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He saves those drowning in sin through you and me. We need to have our eyes open. We need to appreciate how valuable and necessary that rescue work is. We need to care and be kind. It may require a sacrifice of time, effort, and energy, but nothing is more crucial than rescuing one whom Jesus died to save.

Evel Knievel At Snake River Canyon

Evel Knievel At Snake River Canyon

Neal Pollard

Today I took a picture of a famous pile of dirt.  It was the “launch site” for an infamous jump made by an infamous figure of the ’60s, ’70’s, and ’80s.  On September 8, 1974, almost 40 years ago, Evel Knievel used a rocket-powered cycle known as the Skycycle X-2 to jump the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho.  Having now seen this foreboding span between the north and south rim with my own two eyes, I can only wonder why he would have even attempted it. If you aren’t familiar with how it turned out, it was a dud.  His chute deployed at the beginning of the jump and he fell to the canyon floor narrowly missing the river in what would have been a certain drowning due to a malfunctioning harness. Tim Woodward, a now retired columnist for Boise’s Idaho Statesman newspaper, was there covering the event.  He describes the atmosphere, saying, “It was, in the terminology of the day, a ‘happening.’ Spectators and groupies came by the thousands from all over the country, bringing drugs, alcohol and nudity in profusion. It was Woodstock without the music. Or the peace and love” (Woodward, Idaho Statesman, 12/1/07). A local member of the church says that the event cost the city untold money, due to vandalism, theft, and other destructive acts.  He also says the common belief is that the daredevil lost his nerve and panicked, triggering the parachute himself.  Whether that was the case or not, it was a much-anticipated event at which many raucous spectators gathered only to be disappointed.

As I heard and read these details, it made me think of an event that will be far different from this one.  It will involve a figure who has been the center of far greater controversy than any other—one who some love but many more hate.  It will involve a promised event infinitely more spectacular than anything man has devised.  It will include the largest crowd ever assembled to witness any other event, and it will include raucous rabble-rousers as well as righteous religious people.  But it will be neither a dud nor a flop.  Its magnificence defies adequate words of description.  The second coming of Christ will be no mere “publicity stunt.” It will be at the center of the ending of time and the ushering in of eternity.  It will draw every person from every nation for all time.  It will bring everyone to our knees.  God has foretold us of this day and we cannot afford to take it lightly (cf. John 5:28-29; 2 Pe. 3:10).  We must be prepared for it (Mat. 24:44).  We have never seen anything like it, but we can be ready for it!

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