June 17, 2001, Father’s Day—a day I’ll not forget. Barbie left a message on our answering machine. Dad fell off a cliff. He broke his neck, knocked his two front teeth out and was listed in serious condition in Providence Hospital, Anchorage.
June 20, 2001, Dad’s birthday—still alive miraculously at the tender age of 69. I can tell you just hearing his weak voice was a blessing. On the phone he shared what happened. While putting on his waders to fish he lost his balance and toppled down a 35-foot escarpment onto the rocks and shallow water of Peter’s Creek. The fall knocked him unconscious but the cold Alaskan water revived him. He had the presence of mind to hold his breath while the stream carried him toward the silt-laden Kahiltna River.
One of the men he brought to fish watched from above as Dad floated spread eagle and face down towards certain death. Below, five fishermen were casting for Salmon. They could not see his body in the murky creek nor could Dad move his arms or legs. From above the observer screamed instructions to them where to position themselves to catch him. By God’s grace Dad floated into the chest of the unseeing last man who then pulled him to safety. Slowly he then regained feeling in all his limbs.
2 Corinthians 4:7,16-17-- Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us . . . Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
Dad underwent surgery to fuse fractured bones. Today, he shares an analogy that came to him last night when sleep was beyond reach. Jesus is the One who stands in the river to save us. The person helplessly floating towards death and an appointment with a holy God is the sinner. The man yelling from the cliff is the Christian calling out instructions on how to get to Christ. No, Dad’s not dwelling on hospital bills, or what will become of the lodge this summer. He’s still finding ways to share Jesus with a renewed appreciation of life. That’s the power of grace unlocking the jaws of tragedy.
Helplessness is the birthright of humanity. Adam and Eve’s disobedience infected us all with a sin-condition. Thank God He loves us! No matter how high the fall, how deep, fast-moving, or cold the river, Jesus is there waiting to pull us out—if we’ll let Him!
When a man has been hard hit and realizes his own helplessness he finds that it is not a cowardly thing to turn to Jesus Christ, but the way out which God has made for him.—Oswald Chambers in Baffled to Fight Better
©2001 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)