Summary: In this sermon I try to awaken a sense of urgency, both for unbelievers and professed believers alike, to examine our spiritual lives and see our immediate need for an intimate, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
The Unsent S.O.S.
You may remember a story that was all over the news back in October of last year. Two women were rescued by the US Coast Guard after being adrift at sea for nearly 5 months. They were on sailboat that sustained damage to the mast and lost the use of its motor.
Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, were able to survive the 5 months at sea because they had almost a year’s worth of food on board as well as a sea water purifier. But when they were finally rescued, the story they gave the Coast Guard was quite bizarre and filled with inconsistencies.
For instance, they claimed to have ridden out a major 3-day hurricane-like storm. And yet the national weather service saw no record of such a storm anywhere near their location. They told other dramatic tales of survival that included a group of tiger sharks working together to attack their boat. The description they gave of the sharks’ size would have meant they were much larger than any shark of that species ever recorded.
They also claimed that the 6 forms of communication they had on board all mysteriously and simultaneously malfunctioned. The Coast Guard, however, suspects that for some reason these women simply did not have an urgent desire to be rescued.
They believe this because, even though they claimed their six forms of communication failed, there was also an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) on board their vessel. This device should have virtually guaranteed their prompt rescue. Yet, for some reason, it was never turned on. They knew it was onboard and they knew how to operate it, but their excuse for not activating it was that they never felt they were "truly in distress."
When I saw this story on the news, it made me think: you know, so many people today tend to view their own salvation in much the same way these two women seemed to view their time at sea--
--even though their vessel was dead in the water and they were at the mercy of the wind and current for almost 5 months, they apparently saw no real direness or urgency in their situation.
They had all these ways in which they could get access to help and yet didn’t use any them… Experts say that if they would have activated that Emergency Beacon, their distress call would have been immediately sent to the Coast Guard along with their real-time location and they would have been quickly rescued…but again, they never sent out the s.o.s.
After hearing the developing details of this bizarre story, I find myself in agreement with the Coast Guard’s conclusion that these two women, for whatever reason, didn’t want to be found—that is, not until they were ready. Maybe they wanted an adventure, or maybe they wanted an experience they could later write a book about or perhaps they just wanted to get away from everyone for a while. We may never know the true reason for their failure to call for rescue, but what we do know is that if they had really gotten in trouble out there—maybe encountering a real storm like one they claimed to have weathered, or if they had collided with some sea junk and started taking on water, they both could easily have perished long before help could arrive.
Sadly, millions of people who actually believe there is a God are going through life sort of treating Him like that emergency beacon-just waiting for a certain time to actually repent of their sins and finally give controlling interest of their lives over to God.
But exactly what is it that they’re waiting for? when is the right time? Many, like these two women think the right moment hasn’t arrived until they feel they are “truly in distress.”—when there’s nowhere to look for help but up, when they are at the end of their proverbial rope-or literal rope if that should happen to be the case..
And I think we can all testify to our natural tendency to cry out to God when we are in distress (sickness, relationship crisis, financial struggles, death of loved one)
And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is quite possible that God wired us to do just that--to seek Him much more often and earnestly in our trying or desperate circumstances.
But there is a distinct danger in intentionally waiting until you are in distress to call upon the Lord: The moment of distress may very well come upon you so quickly and so severely that you have no time to repent or accept Christ. (car accident, heart attack, stroke, and since many us live in Rocky Mount a stray bullet wouldn’t be out of the question …) any number if things could happen to us that would end our lives almost instantly.