Just seeing the pictures from Hurricane Harvey is totally overwhelming. I can't imagine living it.
"If you're not going to evacuate, write your Social Security number on your arm." If that doesn't say deadly, what does?
"When the water's filling your house, don't go to the attic unless you've got an ax. Go straight to the roof and wait for help to come."
"If you need to be rescued, hang a sheet where someone can see it."
It's all almost unbelievable. Except it's so real.
Groups of people, wading in chest-high water, carrying their child or their pet. Desperately trying to get out before the rising water claims them.
Terrified people, plucked from the island their roof has become, lifted by a rescuer into the chopper hovering above. Families, helplessly watching the rising waters, posting an urgent "help!" to #sosharvey.
Numbers that blow your mind. Over 50" of rain. A hurricane making three landfalls. One third of Houston, America's fourth largest city, covered in water. Port Arthur, Texas - "Our whole city is underwater." Over 4,000 trapped people rescued by the Coast Guard alone. Some 10,000 rescued by first responders in and around Houston. More than 32,000 people in Red Cross shelters.
And nobody knows how many others are still waiting to be rescued.
In the midst of this staggering tragedy, one word keeps popping up as the hope word.
Like those boats. The overnight navy that suddenly appeared in those flooded waters. Motorboats, fishing boats, rowboats, airboats, big boats, little boats, even jet skis. Everyday people, using what they had to save as many lives as possible.
In many cases, no one had to tell them their boat was needed. They're not trained rescuers, but they knew they had what could save people. They knew people would die if they didn't risk trying to save them.
Even in the magnitude of this massive emergency, I can't help but see something even bigger here. Something so big it's eternal.
I'm not in Texas, but I've got people all around me whose only hope is a rescue. A spiritual rescue. They're the people the Bible describes as being "without hope and without God" (Ephesians 2:12).
It's why heaven's Rescuer - my Jesus - came to this sin-flooded world. And not only risked His life to save it - He gave His life. In the Bible's words, "Jesus gave His life for our sins...in order to rescue us" (Galatians 1:4).
Because rescue was our only hope. Because living life our way instead of God's way has left us stranded away from God. Lost. Destined to pay the "wages of sin." "Death," the Bible says. Eternal separation from God and His love. A price that could only be paid by Jesus, the only Son of God, pouring out His life's blood, nailed to a cross.
I once was - spiritually speaking, like one of those people on their flood-surrounded roof. Unable to save myself. My only hope a rescue from above. And He came. Jesus came. All the way to a cross. Then to where I was. He did what only He could do. He lifted me out.
And now, heaven's Rescuer has sent all of us rescued ones an urgent message. "Rescue those who are being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:11). Our friends, our neighbors, our family members are today one day closer to facing the eternal death penalty for running their own lives. The penalty Jesus already paid.
But somebody has to tell them. Somebody who's close enough to reach them. Somebody who will use whatever "boat" God has given them to help bring them to Jesus. Praying with them in their dark time. Sharing your Hope Story of what Jesus has done. Sacrificing what you have to meet a need they have.
Every church, every ministry, every youth group should be a fleet of boats, going out for the rescue. Suddenly the petty little things that divide us wouldn't matter so much. Not when there are lives at stake.
We can't wait for the professional "first responders." There are just too many dying people for them to get to.
So no more excuses. No more hesitating. Let's get our little boat and save some lives.