The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief December 19 when news reports revealed that a father and his three children had been found—unharmed—after spending three days in the snowy woods of Northern California.
After church Sunday, December 16, the group had set out into the nearby hills to cut a Christmas tree, but become disoriented as a storm dumped over a foot of snow in the area. After being unable to search by air for nearly three days due to cloud cover, a helicopter pilot discovered the four in a ravine over a mile away from where they had left their vehicle along the roadway.
Frederick Dominguez, the father, said after his rescue that he had overcome his fear with faith. The prayers of many across the U.S. who were concerned for this family's welfare no doubt bolstered the efforts of the searchers.
At the risk of over-spiritualizing this account, I couldn't help but see the faint parallels in this news story of a family lost in the wilderness with the state of humankind prior to Christ's coming.
Without the salvific work of Christ, we would still be languishing in our lostness. Yet God, in His mercy, broke into history in an act of supreme grace. It is that event we celebrate this week.
God had a plan that would be without parallel in the annals of time. No one man could suffer so great a burden, yet gain such a prodigious reward for others who did not deserve it. For without the manger, there is no cross. Without the cross, there would be no hope.
Frederick Dominguez was rightfully grateful that he and his children were the object of a massive search by others who did not want them to perish. He was confident a savior would come and lead them to safety. And so, in the form of a sheriff department's helicopter, it came to pass.
That is the Christmas story: God did not want us to perish. So at great cost He sent His Son into the wilderness, which is the earth, to be our Savior, to lead us to safety and give us eternal hope.
For those who embrace the Savior and His sacrifice on the cross, God's love trumps their guilt and its everlasting penalty with everlasting life. For that supreme gift we should all be overwhelmed with gratitude—at Christmas and every day of the year.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.