Reformed Baptist Fellowship

A Christmas Rescue

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on December 19, 2008 at 9:02 pm

In October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea.  But somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio.  Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men ditched their plane in the ocean.  For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, and the weather, and the scorching sun.  They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks rammed their rafts. The largest raft was nine feet by five feet. The biggest shark was ten feet long.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable: starvation.  Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water.  It would take a miracle to sustain them.  And a miracle occurred.  In Captain Eddie’s own words, “Cherry,” that was the B-17 pilot, Captain William Cherry, “read the service that afternoon, and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk, but it tapered off in the oppressive heat.  With my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off. . . .  Something landed on my head. I knew that it was a sea gull.  I don’t know how I knew, I just knew.  Everyone else knew too.  No one said a word, but peering out from under my hat brim without moving my head, I could see the expression on their faces.  They were staring at that gull.  The gull meant food. . .  if I could catch it.”

And the rest, as they say, is history.  Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten. Its intestines were used for bait to catch fish.  The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone sea gull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice, giving itself up without a struggle (adapted from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story, 1977).

Now that’s quite a story to tell, but it’s nothing in comparison to what the angel had to tell the night of our Savior’s coming down from heaven to Bethlehem.  “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).  Another angel had told Mary: “Call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Think of it!  Our father Adam ditched our race into the sea of sin.  Left to ourselves, we hopelessly sit drifing along, shipwrecked, starving in the darkness of our sin, doomed to drown under God’s wrath.  But “unto us a child is born” (Isaiah 9:2, 6), — “mighty God” enfleshed in a babe.  He’d grow to be a sacrificial lamb who’d lay himself down without a struggle on a cross.  He’d be pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities, and by His wounds we’d be healed (Isaiah 53:5).

In this wonderful Child’s coming down is the remedy for our desperate sin condition – the salvation of our never dying souls.  In this Babe is our rescue!  Wise men don’t shoo Him away, but grab hold of Him by faith, and never let go.

Mark Chanski

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