What seemed essentially impossible only a few days ago has been accomplished. People around the world are celebrating the rescue of the 12 Thai soccer players and their coach who were trapped more than a mile deep in a flooded cave for 18 days. Divers and rescue workers from around the world worked together to pull off this stunning feat. After divers actually found this lost group there was a team of 3 divers and 1 doctor who spent a week with them in the dark, cramped cave. Others were able to bring them food, blankets, and other needed supplies while the boys waited. Hundreds of other workers were frantically working outside the cave - figuring out plans, pumping out water, assembling gear, prepping for medical care, etc.
Apparently none of the boys, ages 11-16, knew how to swim. After getting them dressed in diving gear somehow the rescuers had to get them back out through very narrow, flooded sections of the oxygen-depleted cave, filled with razor sharp rocks, fighting against strong currents of cold water. But against all these odds, the boys and coach have all been saved. As I watched television coverage just after the last boys and coach were brought out, I heard an interview with a cave diving rescue expert. When asked what he thought was the key to this rescue being pulled off, he confidently said it was the installation of the rope that guided the rescuers and the boys back out. Each boy was tethered to a rescuer and was able to use the rope for his security and safety.
I try to imagine what that cave experience might be like, especially what it would be like having to get out. I know how to swim, but water scares me and I definitely would panic if I had to swim for a long distance under water in a cold, dark, flooded cave ... not sure I could do it! But the prospect of being tethered to an expert holding my air tank / life support and being able to hold on to a rope makes it a bit more possible in my mind.
None of us are presently trapped in a dark, flooded cave deep underground. But nonetheless, many of us feel trapped in something ... addictions, fears, relationships, sinful patterns, isolation, depression, jobs, etc. We'd love to get out of these "caves," we've been told we need to get out, yet we feel absolutely trapped and know we can no more escape our situations than could those Thai boys trapped in their cave. We wish God would provide a rope ... something literal, material, and tangible to hold on to and lead us out. But that never materializes. So what are we to hold on to? What does God provide?
God gives us Himself ... Jesus is the "rope" provided for us to hold on to, to get us out of the deep, cold, dark place we find ourselves in. Yet we can only hold on to Him by faith. Yes, that's frustrating ... why couldn't God just give me the thing, the money, the circumstance, the stuff, etc. I want to fix my problem? Because He knows our real need isn't stuff ... it's Jesus. And while we can only grab hold of Him by faith, God even gives us this needed faith as a gift as we read His precious covenant promises in Scripture, commune with Him in prayer, and feast at His table. And all this is done in community and fellowship with other believers who are struggling with the same matters of faith.
Brothers and sisters, what cave do you find yourself in today? Do you realize you need to be rescued? Do you know that Jesus is the only way out? Are you aware that He is the secure, unchanging, and promised means of salvation? Are you availing yourself of the precious means of grace? Are you in community with other believers? Is your problem a matter of faith? Let's repent of vainly grabbing hold of other things for rescue and pray for that faith so we may cling tightly to Christ.
"I believe; help my unbelief." - Mark 9:24
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and unearth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith - that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." - Ephesians 3:14-19