Let me tell you the story of a man I’ll call Jacob. He lived in a town where there had been heavy rainfall. And on this day, the rain kept on falling. The creek that flows through the town centre had begun to fill and was threatening to flood the entire town. People were talking to one another about what’s happening and knew they had to evacuate their homes and leave and get to higher ground for safety. It was a sensible thing to do.
Jacob had always seen himself as a religious person, and he had complete trust in God. As his friends gathered around him and said, he should be prepared to leave he says “No –I’m going to stay right where I am. I am secure in my faith. I know that God will protect me”. His friends started to argue with him and tried to get him to change his mind. But he remained unmoved, prepared to rely on God and his faith in God to protect him from any danger that might come through these floodwaters. Many thought he was very unwise.
So, the water level continued. The rain kept falling. Soon the water covered the street and came up the steps to his front porch. Others started to evacuate the town. A friend comes to his home in a rowboat “Come on, Jacob, get in. Come with me to safety. This is becoming far too dangerous. You need to come with us and protect yourself.”
But Jacob is having none of this “I have perfect faith in God. I know God is with me. He will protect me. I don’t need the help of your rowboat. Thank you very much. God is enough for me. I will rely on my faith in Him”.
His friend has no choice but to row on and help other residents who were stranded in their homes. The level continues and floods Jacob’s house on 1st floor. He gets to his 2nd floor, but the water doesn’t recede. This time the police come by in a motorboat and plead with Jacob to get out. “No, thanks. My trust is in God. I feel safe in the knowledge that God is always a presence in my life. He could not let any harm come to me. I’m a man of complete faith”. The police give up trying to persuade him and continue on their rescue mission.
Now, Jacob has to get onto the roof. A helicopter comes by, and the rescue guy calls out “Get off the roof now. We can rescue you. Here’s a rope ladder – grab it.” But he still refuses help.”I know God will rescue me Himself”.
Jacob is swept away by the floodwaters and drowns. He ends up in Heaven.
He’s a little upset and even a bit angry that his faith in God has not served him. He did not survive the flood. His life is now over. He demands to speak with God, and God accepts his request.
Why had God abandoned Jacob in his time of need? After all, he had been a good and godly man, lived a noble life, and lived by faith. Why did God abandon him? Then Almighty God said to him “Listen. I was present with you every step of the way. First I sent your friends. Then I sent the rowboat. Then I sent a motorboat. And finally, I sent a helicopter. Jacob, you refused to accept any of this help that was offered to you”.
I think this is a great story, and you may have heard it before. It’s not knocking having faith in God. But it says that sometimes in our time of crisis when we are looking to God for our faith, we must instead look to other people. I guess Jacob would have realised ( too late I might add) that having faith in God is essential – but having faith in human beings and your local community and your friends is also very important.
I remember when I first retired to moved into a local community attending the Anzac day service. I was amazed at the large crowd of people who came – something like 4000 people. There were not enough chairs. I realised that there is a community of people who love to identify with important issues like Anzac day and its commemoration. This is such a good sense of community and belonging. I see God’s hand on this type of response. It shows me a level of caring and commitment.
In the Bible, we read of another Jacob, in Genesis 28. Here is Jacob and his brother Esau. But they never got on even from birth. Their Mother Rebecca was beside herself over their combat, even inside her womb before they were born. God tells her there are two nations within her womb and they will struggle with one another. Jacob is born, and their family situation does not improve. His mother loves him more than Esau which sets up an intense conflict. He steals his brother’s birthright and later takes the blessing of his brother, the firstborn. Esau wanted to kill him, and Jacob’s mother urges him to leave home –abandon his family. He felt devastated and one day has a vivid dream and sees the face of God. He says “How awesome is this place. Surely God is here, and I did not know it”. The angels helped him – and his life continued in deep darkness and distress. He decided to give back to God one-tenth of what he owned to help other people. His family had been through dark times, and he wanted to make it up to them.
Don’t overlook the blessing and strength that comes from others – they can provide hope and endurance and help us survive in times of deep darkness. Sometimes it’s the love of our family that gives us relief in painful days.