My wife still remembers what happened 70 years ago. She can relate it as clearly as if it occurred last week. She heard melodic twittering outside her three-story bedroom window. As most curious four-year-olds would do in similar circumstances, she opened the screen to get a better look. But she was too short to see where the sounds were coming from, so she leaned further over the windowsill. And then a little further. And further – until she lost her balance and began to fall head-first out of the window.
But then suddenly, strong hands grabbed her legs and pulled her far enough back into the room, so she was no longer off balance. When she turned to see who had grabbed her – no one was there.
To this day, she knows it was an angel who saved her.
My own story is different, but it was just as frightening for me. I also was four. Dad had taken me to the beach to cool off from the summer sun. I remember playing in the waist-high water, reaching down to grab sand and shells beneath my feet. Suddenly, a wave knocked me off balance and pushed my face under the water. I struggled to right myself, but panic quickly overwhelmed me.
And just as suddenly as the wave threw me under – the lifeguard lifted me high in the air. In another moment he stood me on the warm sand.
Over the years I’ve thought several times about those two incidents in our lives. But this morning a question dropped into my mind: What did Nancy do to be rescued from falling? Absolutely nothing. She could not at all stop herself from falling from that third-story window to her death. But God did what she could not do. He sent an angel to rescue her because she NEEDED rescue.
And what did I do to be rescued from drowning? Absolutely nothing. I tried my best to stand above the water, but the waves kept pummeling me and driving me beneath them. But God did what I could not do. He sent the lifeguard to rescue me because I NEEDED to be rescued.
There is not a person on this planet who does not NEED God to rescue him or her from eternal death and separation from God. There is nothing anyone can do to rescue themselves. We are each as helpless as a four-year-old in the gravest of danger.
The word, “Gospel” in the Greek language means, “Good News.” And God's promises to us who follow Christ are certainly that – Good News.
Here is one of those ‘good news’ promises that God tells us about through Saint Paul’s pen “. . . giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14)
Those verb tenses are, I think, instructive: “Qualified us” – past tense. “Rescued us” – past tense. “Transferred us” – past tense. “In whom we have redemption” – present tense. “In whom we have . . . forgiveness of sins” – present tense.
Once again: There is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves from sin, death, and the domain of Satan. That’s because God DESIGNED it that way – that we can do nothing to save ourselves. Our glorious Creator and Lover determined from ages past that our rescue would depend solely and exclusively on His grace and mercy to pull us from the precipice and to lift us from the waves.
What does this all mean? If we have given our life to Christ by our baptism and subsequent obedient faith, then God's immutable promises apply to us, those being: God Himself has ‘qualified’ us to share in the heavenly kingdom. He has ‘rescued’ us from Satan’s grip on our soul. God has already ‘transferred’ us into the realm of His beloved Son, Jesus. And God has already ‘redeemed’ us and ‘forgiven’ us of EVERYTHING we’ve brought to Him in confession and repentance.
That, dear reader, is not only good news. It is great news. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!