Monday, April 18, 2016

“Remember this. Hold on to this. This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others. This is the only thing we can do that has any lasting meaning. This is why we're here. To make each other feel safe.” ― Andre Agassi

I doubt that anyone reading this knows the name, Lenny Skutnik.  For a few days, he was famous but then forgotten as most are.  I didn’t remember his name, I had to Google it, but I remembered what he did.  It hit me hard, and I couldn’t make sense of it.  Why would someone risk his life for a total stranger?  What kind of weird emotion would take over and make you forget about all the people who needed you and cared about you such that you would dive into an icy river to rescue someone you didn’t know.  I could understand soldiers sacrificing their lives for their comrades.  I could understand parents sacrificing their lives to save their children, or husbands or wives sacrificing their lives for each other.  But a total stranger?  This was before I became a Christian in 1982.  I just couldn’t believe that anyone with a wife and family would risk everything to try to save a stranger, especially when there were others nearby who were trained to rescue.  Police, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and lots of others are trained to save and rescue and have chosen their profession because they want to do that.  But what makes a bystander with no training jump into an icy river where he was just as likely to die in the attempt to save just one person who he didn’t know.  I truly think that most, if not all, of us are hard wired to save anyone in danger.  I believe that we are that way because we were created out of love by an act of love and are loved by a God of love.  In one of the most famous verses in the whole Bible, Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Do you get that?  God—loved—the world.  That means everybody, strangers and loved ones alike.  If God loved so much that He would sacrifice His only son to save unknown generations of folks, then maybe, we, saved by His love cannot help the impulse to help others even if it means our own deaths.  Maybe you remember the Air Florida flight that crashed into the icy Potomac River in 1982.  Lenny Skutnik was just one of the helpless witnesses on the shore, watching with dread as crash victim Priscilla Tirado up to her face in the icy river failed to grasp the rescue line from the helicopter.  "It was just too much to take," he said. "When she let go that last time, I was taking my boots and coat off. It was like a bolt of lightning or something hit me -- 'You've got to go get her.' "  And so he did. He swam the 30 feet to Tirado, grabbed her and "push-stroked" her to safety.  Why?  Because he couldn’t not do it.  I believe that if you truly have Christ abiding in your heart, you understand completely the quote by Andre Agassi (one of my heroes) printed above.  It’s not about us, it’s about others—that was the message that Christ brought, suffered, died, and rose that we might have life eternal knowing that this life is so temporary.  If you want to see a short YouTube video of Lenny Skutnik’s actions that day, it’s at:

We live for others, why would we not risk our lives for them, whether we know them or not?  John 3: 16 gives me my answer.

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