Rescuing Your Brother

Rescuing Your Brother

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Friday night’s snow storm was almost blizzard-like, in manner if not in measure. With the winds, visibility was near zero. The drive from the church building to our house, all 8.8 miles of it, had to be negotiated at speeds of about 20 miles per hour at times. It was the first night of our gospel meeting with Melvin Otey, who did an excellent job! In attendance were all of our sons and their wives. I’m grateful that all three of our children learned to drive in Colorado and have a lot of experience handling snowy conditions. But, as a parent, you are never without concern. Thanks to Life360, I could watch their progress. And I did. I watched as one by one each made it to their homes. Only one of them did not. I saw that one of them was stuck at “0 MPH” kind of in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to cellphones, I could call him. Turns out that he had slidden off the road and was stuck. Another of our sons was not far away and he was able, with difficulty, to reach them and take them to his home. I watched every bit of it “unfold” on Life360. The saga ended with their safe arrival at 12:30 AM. They were able to pull out his truck without difficulty or damage. It turned out as well as it could.

This all made me think about what the heavenly perspective must be like. The Father does not rely on an App to see fuzzy details of His children’s situation. He sees with the perfect omniscience and is present with the perfect omnipresence of an Almighty God. While He has the power to do whatever He pleases, He has bound Himself to allow His children to exercise free will. When one of His children drifts into danger, He is dependent upon others of His children to rescue them. I am reminded of how anxiously He desires their safe return, how thankful He is when others of His children intervene, and how joyful He feels when He sees His children safe at home. Do you remember in the parable of the prodigal son? Luke 15:20-24 shows the joy and celebration of a father overjoyed that his son, astray in a sinful condition, had come back home. He could not contain his happiness. That story depicts God.

It also makes me appreciate Paul’s words in Galatians 6. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (1-2). Or James’ closing admonition, that “if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (5:19-20). It should be the natural response of one brother who knows of another brother overtaken and astray to act, to “restore” and “turn him back.” The Father is happy when this happens! The stakes are infinitely higher than physical safety. Eternity is in the balance! Is there a brother or sister out there who needs you and me to rescue? If so, it is time for us to act! Consider the Father. Consider the brother. Let’s go get them back!

Friday night at Lehman
The Danger Of Being Swept Away

The Danger Of Being Swept Away

Neal Pollard

You may have heard that I was caught in a rip tide during Carl’s senior trip. We were at St. Pete’s Beach in the Tampa-area, swimming and playing in the water not far from a fishing pier. Somehow, I was pulled into a riptide and quickly pulled out toward the Gulf. The shore quickly grew distant and my subpar swimming abilities were tellingly useless. A couple of fishermen told me I was caught in it and my best hope was to try and move parallel to the waves and angle for a point about a half-mile up from where I was. That was a painfully slow process, and the water kept taking me where it wished.  I was on the other side of the pier, moving generally toward that point but still in the grips of the tide, when Dale swam out and helped pull me out of the current until I could finally get to shallower water and make my way back onto the beach. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I believe Dale saved my life.

Only after this did I learn that, according to the CDC, there was an annual average of 3,536 fatal, unintentional drownings in the United States from 2005 to 2014. That’s about ten deaths per day. Nearly 80% of all people who die from drowning are male. A lack of swimming ability is the greatest risk factor in drowning, and 57% of all people, age 15 and over, who drown do so in “natural water settings” (like the ocean)(cdc.gov).  I also was reminded, from the Pandora playlist Dale piped through our van’s sound system, that he has an interesting sense of humor—playing “Under the Sea,” “The Ocean,” “High Tide, Low Tide,” “In Too Deep,” “Riptide,” “Drowing,” and “How To Save A Life” (plus a bunch more).

But I also have a different perspective toward some of the songs in our songbook:

  • “Soul you are drifting along on the tide, out on life’s ocean so boundless and wide…”
  • “Some poor fainting, struggle seaman, you may rescue, you may save…”
  • “Throw out the lifeline, someone is drifting away…”
  • “While on the sea hear the terrible roaring…”

As I look back, the currents were strong but the force was subtle. It did not take long for me to be moved away from the shore and taken away. Making the right efforts played a part in my staying afloat. Ultimately, however, I needed outside help to come back to shore.

The writer of Hebrews says, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). A.T. Robertson says of the word “drift”: “Here the metaphor is that ‘of being swept along past the sure anchorage which is within reach’ (Westcott), a vivid picture of peril for all” (342). BDAG says it is an imagery of flowing water and means “be washed away” or “drift away” (770). The Greek Old Testament uses the word in Proverbs 3:21, where Solomon urges his son to not let wisdom “vanish from [his] sight.” The epistle’s nautical metaphor pictures vividly what can happen in our spiritual lives. We can  lose sight of where we are, and we may begin to struggle and start to succumb to the pull of the current. We must continue to make the effort to pull away and we should accept the attempts of those who seek to rescue us.

Spiritually, none of us want to become a casualty. We do not want to perish. May we realize that falling away from God is not usually sudden or dramatic. It is often subtle and gradual. Let’s pay much closer attention to what we have heard! It’s our lifeline.

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