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“Our Jacob’s Ladder!” John 20:19-31 Key verse(s) 19:“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!.’”

It’s hard to keep your mind on hope when you are surrounded by hungry sharks. There’s something about imminent and perilous danger that kicks reason and especially hope right out the door. How can you focus on something than you cannot see when something that you can see is about to take a big bite out of your life? Times like this call for action, not introspection. Sometimes life’s problems, especially those which evoke fear, are far too intimidating to deal with gently. At times like this striking out wildly, kicking with all of our might, may be the only alternative to being gobbled up by our fears.

Life has its “sharks”; that’s for sure. And doesn’t it seem that they often make their appearances when we least expect it, when we already have trouble up to the chin and are barely coping at that. Sure enough! You can count on it. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they often do and you are left with that sinking, helpless feeling of having nowhere to turn and nothing to grab on to. Kicking and screaming may have worked for a while. Keeping your wits about you barely kept you afloat but it helped. But now, this added burden is just too much to bear. Unless someone reaches out to take the burden, the “sharks” will have their day.

Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beechcraft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds. When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away. Suddenly Wyatt’s right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water.

Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest. With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours. In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion. Then he heard the sound of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot radioed the Cape York, which was twelve minutes away: “Get moving, cutter! There’s a shark targeting this guy!” As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob’s ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck. He’d been saved. He didn’t need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside intervention could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt. (Peter Michelmore, Reader’s Digest, October, 1987.)

In the mournful first day of the week Jesus’ disciples were gathered...

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