Let me tell you a story of a man who lived in a town that had been affected by heavy rain that seemed to only get worse and worse. And on this particular day that kept on falling, the creek that flowed through the town center begun to fill and threatened to flood the entire town, and people were talking to one another about what’s happening. They had to evacuate their homes and leave and get to higher ground.
It was a sensible thing to do, but Jacob had always seen himself as a religious person. He had a complete trust in God. And as his friends gathered around him and said he should be prepared to leave. “No”, he said, “I’m going to stay right where I am. I’m secure in my faith. I know that God will protect me.” Well, his friends are starting 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.
And many thought he was being quite unwise. So the water level continued. The rain kept falling. And soon the water covered the street and came up to the steps of his front porch. And people started to evacuate town. They had to get into boats. So a friend comes to his home in a row boat. Come on, Jacob. Get in. Come with me to safety. This is far too dangerous for you. You need to come with us and protect yourself. But Jacob was having none of this. “I have faith in God. I know that God is with me. He will protect me. I don’t need your robot. Thank you very much. God’s enough for me.”
So his friends had no choice but to row on and help other residents who were stranded.
And the flood level continued to flood Jacob’s house on the first floor. He gets to the second floor. The water continues. This time the police come by on a motorboat and plead with him to get out. “No”, he said “my trust is in God. I feel safe in the knowledge that God is always a presence with me. He couldn’t let any harm come to me. I’m a man of faith.” So the police gave up trying to persuade him.
Now Jacob gets up onto the roof. Things are getting dangerous. The helicopter comes and the rescue guy calls out to him to get off the roof. Here’s the rope ladder. But he refuses. I know that God will rescue me. And I guess you know the rest of the story. Jacob gets swept away by the floodwaters. He drowns and he ends up in heaven. And he’s a little bit upset, even a bit angry with God, that God had not saved him. He didn’t survive the flood, his life was over. And he demands to speak with God. And God accepts this request. “Why had God abandoned me in my time of need?” “After all”, he said, “I’ve been a good man. I’ve lived the noble life and I’ve lived by faith. Why was I abandoned?”
And Almighty God listened to him and he said, “Look, I was present with you every step along the way that day. First I sent you friends, sent the rowboat, motorboat, and finally I sent a helicopter, and Jacob, you refused to accept any of this help that was offered to you.”
The message behind
Now look, I think this is a great story. You’ve probably heard about it before. It’s not knocking having faith in God. But it’s saying that sometimes in our time of crisis, when we’re looking for God, we need to look at other people. Having faith in God is first and most important, but having faith in human beings at your local level and community is also very important.
Now I remember when I first retired and moved to a local community who were attending the ANZAC Day service, and I was amazed that the large crowd of 4000 people came and there were not enough chairs. And so I realised that there was a community of people who cared, who identified with things like ANZAC Day, a good sense of community in the Bible.
We read about another Jacob, and this is seen in Genesis 28 – Jacob and his brother Esau, and even when they were in their mother’s womb, they didn’t get on. Rebecca, their mother, was just so distressed about their combat. And God tells her that there are two nations within her womb. They struggle with one another.
Unfortunately Jacob only learns later how important people are in his life and the reliance we all need in the people we have around us. God is our provider, but He often extends His arm to us through people.
Lord, we know that it is true that you work for us through people. Thank you for good quality friends and communities around us, amen.