A Word with You - Apr. 25, 2011

Fighting for Lives When the Shots Rang Out

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Flags fly at half staff, our national leaders pause for a moment of silence at the White House, on the Capitol steps, and you even see news reporters struggle with the pain and anguish of devastating moments when a mall parking lot suddenly became a killing field, the heart rending toll of a lone gunman's rampage in Tucson. Six people dead, 14 others wounded. And then in that Tucson hospital Representative Gabrielle Giffords, apparently the intended target, battled for her life with a critical head wound. As horrific as those losses were, we now know that there could have been many more. When the shots began, the everyday heroes stepped up.

Gabby Giffords' 20-year-old intern, Daniel Hernandez, ignored the bullets to reach the side of the wounded. And when he saw the congresswoman contorted on the ground, he sat her upright to keep her from asphyxiating. And then with his bare hands he applied the pressure to her head wound that may have saved her life. As he ran by her gurney to a waiting ambulance, he was covered with her blood.

Patricia Maisch, described as looking like a storybook grandmother, first hit the ground and then dove for the second ammunition magazine that the shooter was about to load with 31 more shots. That act of selfless bravery allowed two survivors to tackle and subdue the assailant. We will never know how many lives were saved.

And then the doctor in the crowd pitched in, followed by a flood of first responders. Whatever each person's plans had been for that destiny Saturday morning, suddenly only one thing mattered, saving the people whose lives hung in the balance. I mean, does anything else really matter when people are dying? You drop everything to do what you can to save them. It's that life-saving instinct that could be the difference between life or death for people all around you and me. Eternal life or death that is.

The need for life-saving action is so blatantly obvious when the danger is physical. But the Bible leaves no doubt that there are so many people in a mortal danger that is not visible but still horrifically real. It's a life threat that can cost a person much more than another 30 or 40 more years on earth. This threat can cost you heaven.

God's Word tells us that "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12). Since only Jesus died to pay for the sin that keeps us from God and His heaven, only those who "have the Son" are ready for eternity whenever it comes.

God uses sobering and unmistakable language to open our eyes to the condition of so many around us: they are "lost" (Luke 19:10)..."perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15)..."without hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12)...those who "will be shut out from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The Bible reveals the mortal danger of people around us who don't belong to Jesus. And in so doing, it summons us who know Him to do whatever we can to save them. That's why the Bible commands us to "snatch others from the fire and save them." And to, "rescue those being led away to death." Each Jesus follower is divinely positioned to be the life-saving difference for the people they know.

My prayer needs to be, "Jesus, help me see the people around me through Your eyes." He sees so much more than neighbors, or co-workers, or friends. He sees them as future inhabitants of eternity in heaven...or in hell.

There is a life-saving emergency right in front of each of us who knows Jesus. We can't wait for a "rescue professional" to get there. If you're with a person in danger of dying, you're responsible. If anything stops us it will be fear.

As Daniel Hernandez reflected on taking action while bullets were still flying, he said, "Of course you're afraid, but you have to do what you can." Yes, you do. Especially when someone's eternity is in the balance.

© (c) Ronald P. Hutchcraft
Distributed by Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.

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