Luke 15:6 (ESV)
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’
There was a story written in the San Francisco Chronicle about a female Humpback that had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. Weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat, with hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, tail, and torso, and a line tugging in her mouth, she was a miserable victim indeed.
Thankfully, a fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was in such bad condition the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her, a very dangerous proposition. One slap of her enormous tail could kill a rescuer. Undaunted, these brave souls worked for hours cutting her free. One guy who was cutting the rope out of her mouth says he saw her eye following him the entire time. Finally, they were able to free her.
The moment she was freed, the divers say she began to swim in joyous circles! She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, gently --she thanked them all. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.
What lesson can we learn from this beautiful story. There are deeply wounded and entangled souls in our congregations and communities who are desperate and near to sinking, never to be seen again. Where are the brave souls ready to risk the danger and gather a team of rescuers to cut them loose and bring them to joyous freedom? Isn't this exactly what our Lord has done for us? We can afford to do the same, and I believe we have this mandate from Him. These are difficult cases, perhaps there is even some danger in approaching them; but a brave and resolute team, led and empowered by our Captain, can accomplish the rescue and share in the amazing joy of the deliverance.
You may be the one to initiate this kind of rescue team for a brother or sister in distress. If so, just do it. The result will be as beautiful and rewarding as a joy-filled Humpback Whale!