The Rescue and the Evacuation
By: Bodé Adeboyejo
We all have heard about the catastrophic situation on the Gulf Coast, caused by Hurricane Katrina. Particularly, the horror and devastation in New Orleans, caused more so by the breached levees, put in place years ago to protect the city from storms, and the surrounding Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
We have all heard about the neglect of a desperate people in a very dire situation, the slow response of the Federal Government, the daring rescues by the U.S. Coast Guard, the lawlessness, the guerilla type violence, the rapes, murders, suicides, the too-little-too-late, last minute response of the Federal Government, the voluntary evacuation and the forceful evacuation, etc.
Speaking of the forceful evacuation, particularly interesting was a story on MSNBC.com; of a man who the police pleaded with to leave the city, in light of the dangerous, inhabitable condition of the city, but was adamant about staying behind; and would not leave. In frustration, one state trooper told the man, “Do me a favor, write your address and your name down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket. Because when you die, we’re going to need to know who we’re picking up.”
Thinking about all the devastation and untold hardships in the Gulf Coast brought by Katrina and the broken levees, especially on the people of New Orleans, the rescue mission, the evacuation, etc. brought to my mind a spiritual parallel similar to the horror experienced in New Orleans.
New Orleans before Katrina could be likened to the Garden of Eden. The levees surrounding New Orleans can be likened to the spiritual barriers God put in place (in Adam) to keep the flood of sin and eternal destruction from flooding and overtaking the Garden. And until Adam sinned, the levees withheld storms and similar type floods of sin and destruction. But when Adam caved in to temptation and sinned, like the broken levees, he caused a breach, which led to the spiritual flooding of not just the Garden but the whole world.
As a result of the breach in the levees, there was a heavy surge of flood water, and the whole earth was flooded with sin and destruction; leading to a universal cry for help. God heard the cry, and sent an Officer of God’s Coast Guard – Jesus, to breach the levee, and also to go on a house-to-house mission to rescue the spiritually deprived and stranded people of the world.
When Jesus came on the scene the situation was very deplorable, just as God had described it. But He went to work anyway. He mended the breach to stop the inflow of murky, harmful water from Lake Evil and River Destruction. He restored broken fellowship with God through His sacrifice on the Cross. He then went from neighborhood to neighborhood, house to house to seek and save the Lost, the forgotten, the forsaken and the abandoned, i.e. a sin-soaked people. He was very successful in saving a whole lot of people by preaching the gospel and reconciling folks back to God.
Jesus speaking about His rescue mission says “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19.
However, what Jesus found disheartening in His Rescue Mission was that as He went door to door, there were many people who refused to be rescued. These people didn’t want to leave their familiar, comfortable environment (if there was anything comfortable on a rooftop) for an unknown territory. Some of them thought that they had a better chance of surviving if they kept control of their own lives rather than putting their fate in the Coast Guard. For others, it was the lust for worldly things that caused them to stay behind, either to protect their personal belongings or to loot others’ personal belonging.
Even though I do understand that all of what some of these people have are their houses, and so would want to hold on to them. But putting things in perspective, I don’t think any property is worth anyone risking his or her life. I mean really, of what value is a piece of property to a dead man? No one should value a property more than his/her life. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 1Timothy 6:7
Needless to say, whatever reason why many chose to stay rather than being rescued was baffling to Jesus. He was very heartbroken that some people would rather lose their lives to gain the world. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36.
Perhaps, many of us in different parts of the country see the devastation in the Gulf Coast, and think that it cannot happen to us or in our area. Chances are, so did many people in the Gulf Coast area think when Florida was ravaged by four hurricanes last summer; or when South East Asia was hit by a Tsunami last Christmas.
The bottom line is that natural disasters know no boundaries! It was Florida last summer. South East Asia last Christmas. And the Gulf Coast this year. It could be you or your area next.
Now, if there’s one lesson we all should learn from the destruction in the Gulf Coast is that life is fleeting – very fleeting! And the things we think are valuable and hold on to are nothing but stuff, which like our lives, can be gone in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The only lasting and meaningful thing in life is a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
So, to you reading this piece, whether you were literally rescued from the Gulf Coast or live far away from New Orleans, Mississippi or Alabama, may I say to you that you are not immune to natural disasters!
Therefore, may I ask you, “Which category of people do you belong?” “Are you one of those rescued by Jesus or are you one of those refusing to be rescued?” Are you one of those who forsook all, willing to start over, or are you one of those who, ‘the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things’ are preventing you from accepting Jesus’ offer of rescue?”
Unfortunately, unlike the Mayor of New Orleans’ order of forceful evacuation, with Jesus there’s no forceful evacuation. You either come as you are or you don’t! He’s given His life for you to get you out of the murky water of sin, destruction and eternal damnation.
Jesus is calling and waiting!
What will you do? Leave with Him or stay? The choice is yours.