Let’s begin today with a great story: A man who jumped into an Ocean City, Maryland, bay last May to save a toddler was honored Friday by the Air Force’s Thunderbirds.
Jonathan Bauer was involved in a multi-vehicle crash on the Route 90 bridge over Assawoman Bay. A twenty-three-month-old girl fell out of another car in the crash and into the water. Bauer saw the baby in the bay and jumped more than twenty-five feet into the water to save her. For his heroics, he was selected to ride in the back seat of an F-16 as part of the Thunderbirds’ “Hometown Hero” program.
If he had waited for professionals to rescue the girl, it might have been too late.
Foundation cracks can be deadly
Yesterday, we focused on the fact that God has given us what we need to do what he intends us to do. Today, let’s add this fact: To experience his best, we must give our best to him every moment of every day. There can be no separation between “our” time and “his” time, no division of life into “sacred” and “secular” or people into “clergy” and “laity.” We must each be available and yielded in every moment of every day to experience God’s providential and empowered best every moment of every day.
I am convinced that the dividing of our lives into “religion” and the “real world” is one of Satan’s most insidious and effective strategies for strangling the power and witness of the church in these perilous days for the gospel.
In recent days, we have begun hearing reports of “major structural damage” discovered at the Champlain Towers South condominium complex three years before the deadly collapse. In response, a multimillion-dollar repair project was set to get underway soon. Now it is too late for the victims of this tragedy.
Our society is in a similar condition to the condominium before its collapse. Cracks in our moral and spiritual foundations are threatening our future. In fact, I am convinced that Western society is experiencing God’s permissive judgment in response to our rejection of his word and will.
Romans 1 describes such judgment: “God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (vv. 24–25). Does this seem familiar?
“When God is dead”
In How Should Christians Vote?, Dr. Tony Evans explains the way God’s permissive judgment works: “Freedom means you get to control the choice, but because God is the sovereign ruler over his creation, you don’t get to control the consequences. He will rule by either endorsing your choice, or he will rule by allowing you to have the consequences of a decision made against him.”
He cites those who support abortion on demand and warns, “There is a price tag for legalizing the shedding of innocent blood. The more unborn babies are murdered in our land, the more we can expect violence in our culture as well. Because when a culture goes against God’s laws, God will allow that culture to experience the consequences of the breaking of that law—in this case the resultant devaluing of life as well as the effects of that devaluing.”
Another example is our culture’s rejection of biblical sexuality and the resulting epidemic of pornography, sex trafficking, sexually transmitted diseases, and broken homes and lives.
In When A Nation Forgets God, Pastor Erwin Lutzer writes, “It is said that after God died in the nineteenth century, man died in the twentieth. For when God is dead, man becomes an untamed beast.”
“No one wants to do the dishes”
How can God use us redemptively in these “untamed” days?
“Professional” Christians have never been more marginalized and distrusted than we are today. Clergy abuse scandals and public moral failures have largely cost “ministers” our moral authority. However, the “laity”—Christians who serve for no reason except that they love their Lord and their neighbor—can make a compelling and transforming difference in the lives of those they influence.
The key is that every believer must be yielded and available to God in every moment of the day.
I’m reading Tish Harrison Warren’s eloquent Liturgy of the Ordinary and have been moved by the way she describes God’s work in the mundane: “The crucible of our formation is the monotony of our routines.” She quotes a sign that hangs on the wall of the New Monastic Christian community house: “Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.”
By staying empowered through prayer and other spiritual routines and available in the moment, we are ready for the opportunity when it comes. When the little girl is in the water, it is too late to learn to swim.
Good Samaritan helps man in distress
A man in mental distress spent nearly seven hours on June 15 dangling from a sign over I-244 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He told police officers that he was in distress about ongoing legal issues in his life. “He was scared about the future, about what he was going to be facing once he came down,” an officer told reporters. As a result, he refused to respond to calls for him to climb down.
Then a man named Rick Jewell intervened, telling the man in distress, “God loves you, guy.” He told reporters later, “I just started talking to him, and I told him there was more to life than what he was doing and that God loves him.” In response to his encouragement, the man climbed down from the sign and received medical treatment.
Jewell also told reporters “what I did for fifteen minutes over there before you showed up. I was praying. So, that had a lot to do with it, I’m sure.”
When Rick Jewell met a man in crisis, he prayed and then responded.
When you meet people in crisis today, will you do the same?