A group of girls at a slumber party. A plumber installing a hot water heater. A nurse enjoying her new home - her first home.
All in the path of a sea of mud that, without warning, suddenly engulfed a full square mile of Oso, Washington. They are among the 176 people currently "unaccounted for." With 14 known to be lost as of now. It's hard to watch.
Thankfully, seven people were rescued. Not many in light of the missing or lost. But seven more than would be alive if it weren't for the rescuers.
And plunging into that 15-20' deep mountain of mud required a mountain of courage. Geologists call it "quicksand." That didn't stop the rescuers.
One man heard screams from the mud and debris. He told an eyewitness, "'I'm going. There's somebody out there." They tried to stop him, but he said, ‘No. There's somebody trapped out there.' He came back with a baby.
Some firefighters waded into that muddy "quicksand" and became stuck to their armpits. They had to be pulled out by rope.
I thought the fire chief summed it up: "We have people who are yelling for help. We are going to take extreme risks."
Cries for help. Dying people. Extreme risks to save them.
I sat back and said to myself, "This is the mission of Jesus."
The mission to which He calls every one of us He's rescued. "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire" (Psalm 40:2).
And our Rescuer says to us, "Rescue those who are being led away to death" (Proverbs 24:12).
So that desperate effort in the "mud and mire" in Washington vividly pictures the life-or-death calling of every child of God.
1. To hear the cries
God told Moses, "I have seen the misery...I have heard them crying out...So I have come down to rescue them" (Exodus 3:7). And then - "So now, go, I am sending you."
It's a conversation I believe God wants to have with me. With every follower of Jesus.
"I have heard the cries of the lost people you know. Have you?" The cries are heart-cries. The quiet desperation. The disintegrating marriage. The enslaving addiction. The crushing loneliness. The dark secrets. The haunting past. He's come down to rescue them. And He's sending you.
Jesus proved on the cross that He cannot leave them lost. How can I?
2. To take the risks
I've had people die who I never told about my Jesus. Maybe their only hope of heaven.
Because I wasn't willing to take the risk. The risk of rejection. The risk of messing it up. The risk of losing favor. The risk of them not liking me. Now I know - with no hope of a do-over - that there's no greater risk than letting them go into eternity with no Savior from their sin.
I've got to be thinking about the cost to them if I don't tell them. A life without meaning. An eternity that's unthinkable.
I am someone's chance at Jesus.
It's time. To go in for the rescue.