HOPE IN THE PIT
Just yesterday, my ministry partner Jack McIntosh called to tell me that one of our new baby calves had fallen into a ditch and could not get out. Apparently, the root system of a very large tree that had fallen years ago, had finally rotted and the ground around it just gave way and made about a twelve foot deep pit—one that we had not seen until Jack saw the mama looking down into the pit calling out to her troubled and helpless baby.
The pit was more than just a hole in the ground, it was more like a hole ‘under’ the ground. Just driving by it in the truck, everything looked fine. But, when we looked closely, there was just a shell of dirt and grass which looked solid, but in reality was not thick enough to hold anything up. One step in the wrong spot and down you would go—just like the calf did.
When I arrived, Jack and the calf were in the pit and they both needed help to get out. The more the calf tried to get out on its own, the more trouble he got into. The pit just got deeper, the underbrush and roots got thicker, and the ground got wetter the further he ran.
In the pit, the calf was helpless and in grave danger. It was especially vulnerable because the ditch that led up to the pit is the same route the coyotes take to get from the woods to the pasture and back. Without the protection of its mama, the calf would surely have been easy prey for the coyotes. If nothing else, it would have died in a day or two of dehydration. I am grateful that we were able to put his feet back on solid ground so he could live.
This incident reminded me of my own life’s story and what Jesus did for me. For years I lived in darkness, a slimy pit, mired in my sin, without hope for a future. Though I gave my life to Jesus at an early age before I was exposed to drugs or crimes that some would call “big” sins, I was still a sinner and lost in a pit of sinfulness that I could not climb out of by myself. Like the calf, the longer I stayed in the pit, the deeper I slipped and the more desperate my situation became.
At first, though I knew something was missing in my life and that I lacked peace, I really did not know that I was a lost sinner and in need of a Savior. I did not know that there was a pit of sinfulness that separated me from a loving God, much less that I was in that pit. I did not intentionally make a decision to climb into the pit and walk away from God, but I was there none the less. I was born with a sinful nature, I sinned, and those “small” sins were enough to separate me from the Holy God who created me, who loved me, and who had already paid the greatest price to save and forgive me.
The Holy Spirit wooed me and showed me my sin, my need for forgiveness, and God’s unconditional love—while I was still in the pit! Even though I was lost and living in sin, He knew where I was and He watched over me. He called out to me and pointed me to Jesus who gave His life as a ransom for mine. He pulled me from the pit of death and gave me eternal life and forgiveness of all my sin so that nothing could ever again separate me from the love and presence of God.
A lady named Milner Donald explained in a simple way what Jesus had done for me on the cross and how I could accept Him as my personal Lord and Savior by confessing and turning from my sin and by trusting in the shed blood of Jesus alone to save me. When I did this, He lifted me out from the pit of sin and destruction and gave me eternal life.
I learned that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. He knew exactly where I was and He called and reached out to me—sometimes just His Spirit speaking to mine, other times through His Word, and other times through the words and actions of other Christians. Over and over He called out to me and showed me His unconditional love for me, a sinner.
Since that day, He has sent many others who encouraged me to follow Him and live my life to please and serve Him. He has been faithful to walk with me, guide me, provide for me, protect me, strengthen and encourage me, and even to reach down and pick me up if I fall or climb back into the pit.
Just as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 40:1-3: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
The miry pit of un-forgiven sin is a place of certain death and destruction. You may live there a long time, but eternal death is certain. The Good News is that God sent His Son Jesus to die in your place for your sin, so that you can have abundant and eternal life.
This New Year, don’t just try harder to be better, surrender your life to Christ, trust in and follow Him and He will lift you up. He is calling and reaching out to you. He knows where you are, yet He loves and cares for you. He wants more than anything else to save you.
Praying you will have a blessed New Year.