Faith Works 10-23-10
Saved, a Wretch Like Me
You might be saved.
For almost two months, you've been trapped in a place that left you few options, minimal choices.
Early on, you were in complete darkness and near panic, but now you can see and hear and understand your plight even more clearly, making darkness and uncertainty seem not so bad.
Signs of hope mix with indications of new danger, and you know just enough to be able to imagine additional challenges, while having no concept of how you can be pulled out of the hole you are in.
It does sound like the Chilean miners, doesn't it? And they are a spur to reflection, not only because of the happy ending we all shared with a watching world, but because they were a more dramatic, starkly outlined sketch of how many people feel every day, walking around here in the autumn sunlight.
You don't have to be stuck in a mine to feel trapped, and you don't have to be in jail to sense the bars and locked doors that keep you where you do not want to be.
Addiction is the easy and obvious category, but there are compulsions and habits and circumstances that defy a clinical diagnosis, but from inside . . .
The Apostle Paul said "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing." (Romans 7:18-19, NIV)
That may or may not sound like being in a stony chamber half a mile underground, but how is it all that different?
Then in verse 24, having reflected on his plight a bit more, Paul cries out "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
During the final stages of the attempt to reach and save the 33 miners in Chile, I wondered about the problems of even success: if they can drill down to them, and come up with a way to get them safely to the surface, who has to be left down there as the last man out? Who turns out the lights, so to speak?
Then I literally sat up straight in my chair, with a shock of startled recognition, when a TV commentator explained how that part of saving the trapped miners would work.
In order to get them out, the rescuers up above would have to send someone down; to explain how the procedure would work, to help them into the unprecedented escape vehicle, and to guide them one by one to their salvation, that one would stay behind until all were safe.
OK, to be fair, it ended up being six rescuers going down to manage the medical and technical process, but you get what I mean.
In order to save them, someone had to go down there from the surface, to freely choose to take on their hazards, in order to ensure that they all might be saved.
The man who took the first ride down in the rescue capsule (and huzzah for NASA's assistance in crafting that elegant solution) was also the last man to leave the mine. His name is Manuel Gonzalez, and may his name be long remembered along with those he helped save.
It would have been a bit much, I guess, if that mine rescuer who had gone down was named Jesus Gonzalez.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Knapsack @Twitter.