A cross-country runner at the rural high school, Doug was all confidence as he grabbed a light pack and headed out the door for a solitary trek up the mountain over hills and dales to the next town.
A time when the youth perceived he was immortal, unstoppable and able to leap over long-horned cattle in a single bound, he grinned as paused in the doorway.
“I’m headed to town,” he called out to his mom in the kitchen. “It’s a half marathon.”
“So how many miles is that anyway?”
“Like thirteen or fourteen.”
“Are you up to that? How long do you think it will take you?”
“Of course I can do it. Maybe a little over two hours.”
“So come looking for you in four hours if I don’t hear from you?’
“Mom! How embarrassing! I’ve been working out. What would the team think? You won’t need to,” the youth assured his mom.
But thirteen miles uphill proved harder than any cross country run. Unlike the grassy golf courses and groomed trails for team practice and competition, Doug’s feet became sore with the rocky shoulders cutting into his shoes. He stopped just at the edge of town, wobbled in the sun, dropped to his knees, and then he closed his eyes.
“Now I know what ‘bonked’ means,” Doug murmured. He couldn’t have run another fifteen feet.
High school principal Ron and his wife Elaine were driving to town when they spotted the body on the side of the road.
“Stop, Ron! Someone’s dead on the side of the road!”
The prostrate body was sprawled motionless on a weedy patch by the road. They two rushed to him. There was no blood or missing limbs. The vultures weren’t circling overhead.
“Honey,” Ron commented to his wife, “He looks familiar. Why, this boy goes to my high school! Call for help!”
Just as Elaine raised her phone to call 9-1-1, the lad’s eyelids fluttered.
“You’re alive!” she cried aloud.
He croaked, “Water!” She gave him water to drink and more to douse his flushed face.
“I was just doing a half marathon,” he explained to the principal’s wife when he recovered a little. “It was a little harder than I thought. I forgot I have to run back, too.”
Red-faced Doug slumped low in the backseat as Principal Ron and his wife drove him home. Even more embarrassing than his own parents coming to get him was going home in the principal’s dual-cab truck.
But he was safe–rescued. And God was with him, as He is with us.
God told Joshua, who lead the Israelites after Moses’ death, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” [Joshua 1:5 NIV].
When it comes to rescues with overwhelming odds, I remember with a grateful heart a life and death experience when I was a young adult as confident as Doug.
Darkness was falling and I was traveling alone when the engine blew in my new two-wheeler – a touring motorcycle with all the bells and whistles. It was bear country. Then a would-be assailant pulled in. Just seconds before reaching me, he turned when the roar of a diesel engine split the air. As my rescuers pulled in, the would-be assailant drove off. Coincidence or God? It was God.
Just as Doug was rescued on his half marathon by people God sent, so God rescued me.
Do you need rescue from a messy life like I did? The Bible promises that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [check Romans 10:9].
God is there for your half marathons, overwhelming odds, and life. Let Him rescue you.
[Jo Russell is a Christian speaker, author of articles, anthology contributions, and award-winning Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women. available from Amazon.com, her speaking engagements and website, buttontogod.dev. Enjoy chuckles and speeches, tips and excerpts in website options and weekly blog.]