Haven’t We Been Here Before?

“Rescue me.  Take me in your arms.  Rescue me.  I want your tender charm…I need you, and your love too.  Come on and rescue me.” -Recorded by:  Fontella Bass (1965)    Composers:  Carl Smith and Raynard Miner.

Wow!  It’s my first anniversary as a blogger!  Shocking really.  The year has flown by us.  Having lots to say, lots to type, my fingers are sore.  I find it therapeutic.  Allow me to show my gratitude for the new friends I’ve made through the lines posted.  If you are one of those, thank you, dear friend.  My life is sweetened because we share our words.

My first posting, from one year ago, was concerning something horrific I lived through while on the job behind the mic at KOJO-94FM in Dallas/Ft Worth.  (See the cover picture above.)  The surviving stranded teens, coming home from summer camp that July morning of 1987, will never forget the scene.  Neither will I.  Certainly, you are invited to my archives to July 19, 2017 and read the story, “Lost In Comfort”.  To say that today’s article is ironic would be an understatement.  It seems we’ve been here before.

Earlier this month the world was held tightly in an unexpected anticipation as we hoped and prayed for a young boy’s soccer team in Thailand.

Cave Boys Happy AFP Getty Images

Photo:  AFP/Getty Images

The “Wild Boars” soccer team, ages 11-16, along with their 25 year old coach, often went out for a bite to eat followed by some off-the-field-activity after practice on Saturdays.  One Saturday in June, they had lunch and elected to explore the well-known Tham Luang Cave.  During their impromptu excursion deep inside the sprawling cavern, the monsoon rains began to pound the area.  You know the story.  The waters began to rise trapping the team of 12 lads, and their coach, inside the far belly of the cavern.  For much of the 18 day ordeal, they had no food, only the water dripping from the stalactites from the ceiling of the section in which they were confined.  The boys did all they could to try to dig their way out in efforts to seek another exit, but there were none to be had.  Hopelessness and helplessness began to sweep over the group while at the same time trying to inspire one another.

Over 2,000 people from many nations were involved in the search and rescue attempts.  From local citizens to Navy SEALs, construction workers and engineers, they all came together for one goal.  At some point, great minds had to defeat the cloud of despair around them to focus more on a plan of action only supreme bravery could tackle.

As the flood waters continued to rise, as well as global prayers, a brilliant thought-out proposal was hatched. Part of the blueprint had to do with reaching the captured team, teaching them how to use oxygen tanks and swimming under cold water for at least half of a mile, often in tight bottleneck areas.  Everyone knew it was an operation of high risk.  One courageous soul volunteered to dive down to place oxygen tanks strategically along the lengthy swimming route for the rescue divers and the boys inside.  He was 38 year old former Taiwanese Navy SEAL, Petty Officer Samarn Kunan.  Diving into the frigid subterranean rising waters, Officer Kunan carefully deposited several air tanks along the cave route so others could sustain life during the rescue.  He never swam back out.  Later a rescuer found Officer Kunan floating in the flooded tunnel beneath.  He was unconscious from lack of oxygen, the very same element he was placing for others coming behind him.

The project worked.  The boys were freed one by one without serious injuries.  After some time in the hospital for observation and needed attention, the team gave a news conference.  They were all so grateful and praised the passion, compassion and life-giving efforts of their fallen hero, Samarn Kunan.  Some gave a heartbreaking thought that they felt it was their fault he lost his life.  The medical attention also included much needed counselling.

Cave Boys Reuters

Photo: Reuters

When asked what they had learned from this harrowing experience, the answers came loud and clear.  One mentioned, always tell your parents what your plans are before you go anywhere.  (As a dad, I concur.)  Many others expressed how they felt a strange urge to live life more carefully.  Others humbly stated that Samarn Kunan’s gift of bringing them hope and life gives more meaning to life from now on.  One can only hope so.

Valeepoan Kunan, the widow of Samarn Kunan, sent out photos of the “life-sustainer” hero from their personal family moments.  In her grief, she said something I actually felt inside my own heart.  She said of, and to, him, “You are my very heart.”

Cave Boys Navy SEAL

Photo: CBC.Ca

It all reminded me of the WWII movie, “Saving Private Ryan.”  There’s something of inexplainable valor concerning the act of giving one’s life away so that others might live.  Tom Hanks’ character did just that in a final battle while saving Private Ryan’s life in order for the young soldier to leave the front lines and see home again.  His character had been given dangerous orders to take a team deep into enemy territory to extract the young soldier and bring him back to the states.  (SPOILER ALERT)  At one point, toward the end of the movie, Hanks’ character is gravely wounded while shielding the life of Private Ryan during a fierce firefight just as they reach a bridge of freedom and safety.  As his body is propped up in a sitting position, he continues to fire his weapon toward the Nazi advancement, he challenges Ryan in his final breaths.  He charges Ryan to boldly go home and make his life count.  The scene fades, seguing into modern times where the now elderly Private Ryan is kneeling and sobbing at the cross headstone of Hanks’ character in the military cemetery in Normandy, France.  At an extremely touching moment, with his children and grandchildren surrounding him, Mr. Ryan rises to his feet, turns to his wife standing there and makes an astonishing, heart-wrenching request.  Needing confirmation if his life has mattered from the woman who knew him best, he said, “Tell me I have led a good life.  Tell me I am a good man.”  It was as if to say, “Has my life been worthy of this man’s sacrifice?”

Saving Private Ryan

“Saving Private Ryan” – Amblin Entertainment, Mutual Film Company, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures

Hear me out on this.  Flat out, let me just say, even in a far greater way, Jesus Christ did this for me.  His purpose, His mission was clear, stating it several times.  He came to rescue lives, our lives that live on after physical death.

We, all of us, are law-breakers in various forms.  Who hasn’t lied, cheated, lusted, coveted, ran from God’s heart, etc?  Some worse than others, but we can’t measure up.  We all are unable to truthfully say we have kept God’s design, His commandments for us.  From the Torah onward, law-breaking has its consequences.  Blood was shed to cover over the sins of the average Joe to the Charlie Mansons of mankind.  It was a price-tag God placed in the beginning to keep righteous wrath in its scabbard.  This is why historically, and even some today in multiple cultures, practiced the sacrificing of animals for spiritual appeasement.  It’s truly no longer needed.  Jesus, the sacrificial lamb from God, was sent to be that atoning sacrifice for the fallen souls of humanity, across cultures, nations and schools of thought.  Love made the difference.  Like Samarn Kunan’s story, He literally took our place when He took the cross upon Himself.  A monumental price was paid for wrong-doing.  Just like the soccer team digging for escape only to find it impossible to rescue themselves.  So too, we are unable to dig-out of our dark spiritual cavern.  I know, it’s our self-programming to attempt to do it ourselves, or call on a crystal for relief, but at the end of the day, we hit the sack still in sin-sickness in our DNA.  This is why Jesus said, and unpopular then, so it is today, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 paraphrased.)  Even our very best behaviors are void.  Taking it — His sacrifice for us that we can live beyond this life — to heart is not only a covering for law-breaking, but also an ongoing renewal cleansing in a deeply spiritual process only the Life-Giver can bring.  Think of it as a life-sustaining oxygen tank you did not own, you did not bring or create.

Jesus' Invitation (pinterest)

Photo:  Pinterest

After a year of insights, there’s even more room in the tank for fuel for the race.

“This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you.  It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven.” – Jesus – Matthew 26:28  (Contemporary English Version)

5 Replies to “Haven’t We Been Here Before?”

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