Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A real life catastrophe...

So the other day I’m riding up the road on an interstate, not quite in the boonies but you could see them from where I was. I’m driving along at highway speed and up in front of me, I saw the tell tale brake lights of about 15 vehicles in front of me suddenly coming on as cars, a tractor trailer, a school bus and other vehicles are slamming on brakes for some problem in the roadway I was not yet able to see. When I saw the tractor trailer begin to fish tale slightly next to the school bus, I thought “Oh this is not going to end well!” Fortunately the trucker did an amazing job of straightening out the truck, the school bus driver stayed in her lane and miraculously none of the other drivers over reacted and there was not a 15 car pileup.   The blue smoke from tires quickly dissipated and traffic keep flowing with some cars still veering left or right. I figured this meant there was some kind of debris in the roadway that was making people swerve. As I got to the spot mere seconds later, I saw the problem. A flock of about 15 terrified ducklings was going back and forth in one lane of traffic, disoriented and tragically confused. They were scurrying one way only to have a car zoom by and they’d reverse direction unexpectedly. Their choice of timing happened to be when all those cars were passing through an otherwise clear stretch of highway. It was terrorizing the ducklings and also the motorists who suddenly were risking life and limb to spare the lives of these ducklings; attempting to make several thousand pound vehicles do things only professional stunt drivers would attempt. Keep in mind this is all happening on a highway with a posted 65 mile an hour speed limit. As I avoided the ducklings with my vehicle, a quick glance at the roadway sadly showed there were a number of ducklings and or parents who were not so fortunate as the roadway was littered with feathers and bodies. I glanced in my rear view mirror in time to see an SUV swerve and miraculously drive over the flock – straddling them with his tires and I don’t know how but he missed them, I think only by the grace of God! 

As the intensity of the near catastrophe I had just witnessed and been a part of with those other drivers began to subside; I finally exhaled and a flood of emotions and thoughts began to flow. The drama was so intense I blurted out some of my thoughts even though I was the only human in the car! Since I had a long drive ahead of me, I thought about that scene from a spiritual point of view. One of my thoughts was the irony of priorities. Here were ordinary humans, swerving all over the road or trying to stop on a dime; making a split-second decision and risking a major accident that could have very well meant major injury and possibly even death for them or others in order to save the lives of some ducks. Now before you think I’m heartless and don’t care about the poor animals, while I’m no Dr. Doolittle, I avoided the ducks because I saw the warnings of the conditions and was able to do so safely. If however I’d have been a few seconds faster and was forced to choose between my safety and the well being of those poor ducks, I’m sure the ducks would have lost. I was taught that people are more valuable than animals and certainly possessions. God’s word makes it clear this is the proper way to prioritize as mankind was the crowing act of God’s creative work. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care for animals, but we should not place animals above people in terms of importance. Our society doesn’t have these same priorities and there are numerous examples where people suffer so animals might prosper.

As I was driving after this intense near miss, I thought about the actions of those well meaning drivers and I looked at that little group of lost ducklings, without father or mother to guide them, running scared to and fro, terrorized and traumatized  and I thought of the compassion of our Lord Jesus who looked upon the multitudes with a gut wrenching view of the multitudes because they were weary (some translations say harassed), and scattered,  like sheep having no shepherd (Matt. 9:36). My next thought was that many Christian people arguably might care more for a flock of ducklings than for people who are doomed to an eternity in Hell. Many Christians would risk life and limb for those 15 ducks faster than for 15 lost neighbors on their street. Convicting isn’t it? At least it is to me. Yet I’m proud to tell you that many Christ following disciples here at Calvary are moved with compassion for those lost sheep who have no shepherd and they demonstrate this by their faithful service to Jesus.

This past week, 46 of our people left the comforts of home on two different mission trip opportunities, one group of 9 adults to Waterville Maine to work with Living Water Community Church in a place that is 98% un-churched. The other team of 31 youth and 6 chaperones went to serve in Philadelphia as part of a large mission opportunity involving a number of churches working in the inner city. I am so proud of Calvary as the bride of Christ because you consistently demonstrate your commitments to give, to serve and to go to minister and reach people who are more lost than those poor ducks. The urgency of the task for those who are in danger of perishing without Christ demands we risk everything to save them as that is exactly what Christ did for me and for you so that we could avoid a real life catastrophe. In our neighborhood, in our city, county, state, nation and even to the uttermost parts of the earth; people need the Lord. At our annual meeting of Southern Baptist Churches, we were challenged that every church needs to embrace one of the 3800 yet unreached people groups with no access to the gospel in order to win them to Christ. I accepted that challenge and believe God would have us do that here at Calvary. What will it take to move us? The image of those little ducks on the brink of disaster, scurrying back and forth is etched in my mind; but oh the joy of seeing them saved and rescued is thrilling. How the Lord delights when we do His will in reaching out to win those He died to save. How He delights in a church who engages in helping people avoid an eternal, real life catastrophe called Hell! By the grace of God, we’ll see God do the impossible in saving those people if we’ll be faithful to take all measures necessary to rescue the perishing and care for the dying. Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save… from my little corner of the world to yours and theirs…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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