I have a friend named Brad who made the front page of the paper, because he almost drowned. His rescue was extraordinary. He set out with a small raft and his bike, intending to make his way to a nearby lake. As he walked through the woods toward the lake, there was nowhere to walk except through sludge. He eventually abandoned his bike and boat.
He slogged through the darkness only to find himself eventually floating in the middle of Lake Lewisville. Being as skinny as a rail with zero body fat (what’s that like?), he was soon on the brink of hypothermia.
Brad told me he had always been one never to ask for help. And yet, in this crisis, he screamed at the top of his lungs: “Oh my God! Please help me!”
You know how he was he rescued?
A dog heard him . . . and starting barking.
The dog’s owner came outside and heard Brad screaming in the distance. The situation proved so dangerous, in fact, the paramedics who risked their lives to save Brad were hailed as heroes for their bravery.
Coming close to death made Brad realize he wasn’t self-sufficient. True, Brad could have held on to his independence all the way to the bottom of Lake Lewisville. But the crisis showed him the truth that God’s mercy had hidden—he was powerless to save himself.
We must come to the point of realizing our need for God is total, not partial, and cry out as Brad did from the waves: “My God, please help me.”
I’m of the firm conviction that God is not fair, strictly speaking. In spite of all the pain we suffer, God’s mercy is more abundant than we realize, for none of us suffers what we truly deserve. Jeremiah’s words come to mind:
Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? —Lam. 3:39
We assume God’s mercy as an entitlement, a right to be claimed, rather than as God’s opportunity for us to repent (Romans 2:4). After all, isn’t mercy for our mistakes? (And justice is for others’ mistakes.)