Tuesday, March 5, 2024

White-Water Canoeing Up the Road to Hell

Suggested Reading: Acts 9:10-19

When I was in seventh grade, our church youth group went on a white-water canoeing expedition for Spring Break. We drove up river, paired up in canoes, and then started down the river. Most of us had never done this before, but we all seemed to be doing well. Until the rain started. Within a few hours, the river had risen several feet and the rain was still coming down hard. Most of the group reached the camp where we were supposed to stop for the night, but several were still unaccounted for. As the waters continued to rise, a few of our more experienced canoers got back in their canoes and headed up-river to find our missing people. We all knew that setting out, canoeing up-river with the water rising, was not safe. But teenagers were missing in the storm and someone had to go save them. So, even though the men were scared and we were scared for them, they headed out because someone had to save those teenagers lost on the rising river.

Looking at Acts chapter 9, I was reminded of that Spring Break trip by the reaction of Ananias of Damascus. Saul of Tarsus, the nemesis of the early church had been sent to Damascus to arrest and detain followers of Jesus. Without telling Ananias that Jesus had appeared to Saul on the road into town, Jesus appeared to Ananias, telling him to go find Saul and heal his blindness. Oh, and Saul already knew he was coming.  "But Lord," Ananias exclaimed, "I've heard people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name"(Acts 9:13-14, NLT).  With some pretty good justification, Ananias was scared to death of walking right into Saul's hands.  But going to Saul was an important task. Saul needed someone to open his eyes, both literally and figuratively. And so, even though it scared him to death, Ananias went.

We understand the urgency of saving people who are in danger, of sending rescuers into burning buildings to save children from fires and of searching for teenagers lost on raging rivers when the water is rising. We understand that urgency and we commit ourselves to action because, even though we might be scared, something has to be done. But far too often, we fail to apply that same urgency and commitment to reaching the lost, in spite of the fact that the consequences can be even more significant.

Every day we see people living without hope, never living out the potential with which they were designed to live in Christ. We see people who are either casually strolling or running at full speed down the road to Hell, people in desperate need of forgiveness and purpose. Yes, the idea of sharing the Gospel with them may be a little scary, but we wouldn't let fear stop us if there were children drowning in a river or standing in front of an oncoming car. Why would we allow fear to keep us from sharing the Gospel with people in need of rescue from Hell? Do we hold back simply because the danger doesn't seem as immediate?

Bravery isn't the lack of fear but the ability to do what is necessary in spite of fear. Isn't it about time we put a little bravery back into sharing the Gospel?

Trusting Jesus to Help You Trust

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