If you have seen images of men and women reaching out to help people during times of tragedy and need, you have seen that rescuers live with a sense of urgency, for reaching those who are hurt and in danger is an imminent crisis. We commend their selfless devotion to helping whether it is a hurricane, a flood, or a fire—they are there. But for eternity, Jesus is the Ultimate Rescuer. At just the right moment, He rappelled into history, descending from heaven into a dark, dangerous, and despairing world to rescue the perishing.
After His resurrection, rather than remain on earth, He commissioned His followers to go in His Name, seeking the lost and making disciples. That mission has made its way down to you and me, and we need a divine sense of urgency because we don’t know how much longer before Christ comes again. You and I are God’s ultimate rescuers—bringing people to the saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Deep Sense of Burden
To be rescuers, we need a deep sense of burden. The Christians who have changed the world are those who are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). They say, like Paul, “Woe is me if I do not [share] the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). A hundred years ago, there was a wealthy society couple in New York City named Sidney and Emma Whittemore who were part of New York’s glittering scene. Sidney and Emma were stirred by the message at an evangelistic campaign, went forward at the invitation to accept Christ as Savior, and were wonderfully saved. Soon afterward, a friend invited Emma to visit Water Street Rescue Mission on the lower end of Manhattan. That day Emma entered a world she had never imagined. She heard curses, saw quarreling, fighting, police abuse, and women dragged off to the station. Her heart went out to the girls and women who lived on the street, and she determined to do something about it.
On October 25, 1890, Emma Whittemore opened her first Door of Hope to house girls who had nowhere to live. Within four years, the Door of Hope had helped 325 girls, and by Emma's death in 1931, there were 97 homes in seven countries.
It’s remarkable what the Lord can do when He finds someone with a burden to rescue the perishing.
A Clear Sense of Priority
To be ultimate rescuers, we also need a clear sense of priority. When it comes to time, treasures, and talents, we have to make wise decisions, remembering the eternal implications of our choices.
In March of 1889, a group of immigrants in Copenhagen boarded the Danmark to sail to America. More than seven hundred people were on board, including children and babies. A couple of weeks into the voyage the main shaft of the ship broke and knocked a hole into the ship’s bottom. The immigrants were stranded in the middle of the ocean in rough waters and were facing a terrible death. For 24 hours they prayed and whispered together in groups.
Out of nowhere they spotted the British cargo ship, the Missouri. Captain Hamilton Murrell saw the disabled vessel, which was flying a flag of distress. Murrell’s ship was loaded with cargo bound for Philadelphia, and so he offered to tow the Danmark to the nearest port, but the seas were too rough. The Danmark began sinking. Instantly Captain Murrell ordered his cargo overboard and the lifeboats dispatched. The women and children were rescued first. Next the men made the transfer, and finally the crew of the Danmark boarded at the last moment.
Over seven hundred people were saved by a captain who instantly and willingly threw his cargo overboard to make room for the perishing.
Sometimes we load our lives with so much “cargo” that we have little room left for souls. Our possessions become money pits that drain our energy and resources. Jesus warned that “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches” can choke the word so that we become unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
In the final analysis, we need to ask ourselves: Do we value souls more than the accumulated cargo of life? If faced with a moment of decision, would we throw everything overboard for the sake of a soul for whom Christ died? We are called to be rescuers and to follow the example of Jesus. We must be diligent, aware, fearless, and ready. We need a divine sense of urgency, a deep sense of burden, and a clear sense of priorities.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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