Rescue the Perishing

My wife, Nellie Jo, and I recently enjoyed a few relaxing days at our favorite beach. Every day we walked five or more miles on the beach, enjoying the scenery and the time with each other.

On a typical walk, Nellie Jo looks down for shells. This particular beach has an abundance of unspoiled seashells. But this time, her usual plans were disrupted for a providential appointment.

Seeing the Danger

We passed by a little boy, probably about two years old, on the edge of the water. He was playing in the sand and yelling in delight as small waves crashed toward him.

I saw a typical beach scene. Nellie Jo saw danger.

First, she noticed that the boy’s mom was fifty or more feet from him. Furthermore, the mom was distracted by her two older children playing nearer to her. Nellie Jo also saw that the ocean floor fell about two feet from the edge of the water, right where the little boy was playing.

My wife was bothered by what she saw. I stupidly encouraged her to move along. After all, we couldn’t take care of every child on the beach. Nellie Jo obliged and walked on, but she kept looking over her shoulder.

Then it happened.

Realizing the Danger

It happened so quickly. I’m not even sure we saw him fall into the water. By the time our visual senses realized the danger, the little boy had disappeared into the ocean. Nellie Jo screamed something and ran at top speed. I ran too, but a few feet behind her. She quickly arrived at the spot where the boy had fallen, and reached in the water and rescued him. He was coughing and fearful, but he was okay.

The mom did not realize what had happened until she heard Nellie Jo’s scream. She rushed to take her son from my wife’s arms. She offered a meek and embarrassed thanks and took the boy to be next to her.

I am convinced that the boy would have drowned.

Nellie Jo is his heroine. She is mine as well.

Understanding the Danger

My wife and I walked from the near disaster quietly and with sober reflection. One of us spoke softly: “I really believe he would have drowned.” We both understood the danger of the moment.

I’m not sure what Nellie Jo was thinking as we continued our walk in a prolonged period of silence. But I do remember what was on my mind. I wondered how many times I pass by someone who is in eternal danger. If their lives were to end today, they would spend eternity in a real and literal hell.

I wondered how many times I fail to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when He tells me that someone is in danger. I wondered how many times I am so preoccupied with my own needs and my own world that I fail to notice the greater and eternal needs of others.

Communicating the Danger

I can be a very selfish person. I have received and responded to the greatest news ever. Someone shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with me and I responded in repentance and faith. But now it is my privilege and responsibility to share that good news with others. I must not only tell them of the danger they are facing, I must joyfully share with them how they can be saved.

Nellie Jo rescued a perishing little boy. I am so incredibly proud of her.

God has commanded me to share the good news of how He can rescue the perishing from their own eternal tragedy.

Nellie Jo demonstrated obedience and courage.

I must do so as well.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.