Summary: If you want to save yourself and lead others to safety, commit yourself totally to the Lord, and don’t compromise on that commitment. But if you have, cry out to the Lord, who can still save you and use you for His glory.
In her book, Unthinkable, Amanda Ripley investigated why some people survive disasters and others don't. She examined fires, floods, hurricanes, and airplane crashes. She interviewed dozens of survivors and discovered three phases on the journey from danger to safety: denial, deliberation and what she calls “the decisive moment.” Unfortunately, many people don't make it to that final phase—the decisive moment. They don't make a decision to act.
As an example of the third stage, Ripley tells the story of Paul Heck, a man who knew how to act when his decisive moment came. On March 27, 1977, the 65-year-old Mr. Heck and his wife were sitting on a Pan Am 747 awaiting takeoff when an incoming plane hurtled through the fog at 160 miles per hour and slammed into the Heck's plane. The collision sheared the top off the 747 and set the plane on fire. Most of the 396 passengers onboard froze. Even Heck's wife, Floy, would later report that her mind “went blank” and she felt like “a zombie.” But Paul Heck went into action mode. He unbuckled his seatbelt, grabbed his wife's hand, said, “Follow me,” and then led her through a hole on the left side of the aircraft.
In an interview after the disaster, Mr. Heck noted how most people just sat in their seats acting like everything was fine even after colliding with another plane and seeing the cabin fill with smoke. But Heck also said that before takeoff he had studied the 747's safety diagram. When the crisis came, Heck knew it was a decisive moment. He was prepared to make a decision and head for the only exit that was available to him. (Amanda Ripley, Unthinkable, Harmony, 2009, pp. 176-177; James Pressley, "If You Hear an Explosion Run for the Exit Now," Bloomberg News, 7-8-08; www.PreachingToday.com)
Our world is on fire today with riots, a recession, and disease ravaging our country. Many people are frozen in their seats, not sure what to do, but that doesn’t have to be you or me.
We are facing a “decisive moment,” in which we must act with courage and make a decision, but what decision do we need to make? What do we need to do in this decisive moment not only to save ourselves, but to lead others to safety, as well? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Judges 13, Judges 13, where the nation of Israel faced one of their “decisive moments.”
Judges 13:1 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. (ESV)
These were the original Palestinian terrorists, who terrorized Israel for 40 years. This is the 7th cycle of disobedience and distress for Israel, but God is about to raise up a deliverer.
Judges 13:2-5 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (ESV)
God’s deliverer would be a Nazarite this time, someone wholly dedicated to God his entire life. According to Numbers 6, a Nazarite showed his dedication to God by not drinking wine, by not going near a dead body, and by not cutting his hair.
Judges 13:6-8 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ” Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” (ESV)
This should be the prayer of every father on this Father’s Day and every day: “Lord, teach my wife and I how to raise the children who will be wholly dedicated to you.”