When I was a child in the 1950’s, it was a great delight to be allowed to watch a film on the television on a rainy afternoon. Just recently on a dismally cold Sunday afternoon I was reminded of this pleasure when I sat for a few minutes and watched the last minutes of an old movie of ‘Lorna Doone’, which had been scheduled just before the early evening news. I have to admit I don’t know the story, having never read the book, but in this penultimate scene it was clear there was a ‘goodie’ and a ‘baddie’ who had been antagonists throughout the movie, not least because they both wanted to marry the same young woman.
The scene that caught my attention showed the two men struggling together in a boggy hole, both sinking fast in slimy black mud. As I watched, the good guy managed to get to the edge of the bog and to pull himself out. He paused to observe his enemy sinking in the slime, but then he stretched out his hand to give him help out of his predicament. The amazing thing was that the other man refused his help, clearly preferring to sink to a terrible and certain death, rather than receive any assistance.
I couldn’t get the scene out of my mind for several days because it seemed such a parable of those in the world who refuse the wonderful helping hand of their potential Saviour. He has offered help and still offers it today, but as our verse says, ‘they were not willing’ to receive it. It seems that many would rather perish in a deathly slimy bog of sin and sink into the darkness of certain death. But, why? He can save them. He wants to save them. He is reaching out His hand towards them and, if they would only receive his help, He can pull them clear and give them a new start in life. David wrote in Psalm 40:2, ‘He has brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock’. This sums it up exactly.
I started to ask myself, “Why would someone refuse such essential help?” The character in the film was probably too proud to receive any help from his rival. I guess to do so would have demonstrated his neediness, to receive aid would require him to rely on the other man’s strength and therefore to submit to him. Maybe he was not willing because he reasoned that for the rest of his life, he would have felt vulnerable and have owed his very existence to the one he wanted to go on despising. It seems he preferred in his pride to ‘go it alone’ and do it his way, even if that meant certain death.
Or maybe, in those few moments he recognised the truth about himself and felt he didn’t deserve such generosity after all the wicked things he had done. Maybe he felt he wasn’t entitled to a second chance.
But perhaps he didn’t realise his true predicament. Is it possible not to recognise the inevitable outcome of being in a ‘horrible pit’ or the ‘miry clay’, as David puts it? I suspect this may be the case for some people, perhaps even people we know, love and pray for, who are refusing the help that is offered by Jesus,
So, today, with the full confidence that Jesus is still reaching out His hand to each and everyone of those we care about, who are not yet secure with their ‘feet on a rock’, let’s pray for them to recognise their predicament and humbly to receive the aid they need, and that He alone can offer. Of course, they will then owe their life to Him, but, as we know, there isn’t any better, more perfect or more secure place to be.
Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, we pray today for those we know and love who are sinking in the ‘miry clay’ of sin in a sin-filled world of darkness. We pray for Your truth to wake them from unreality to recognise their inevitable end and for them to be willing to recognise their need and be willing to be pulled from the darkness, so their feet are secure on the Rock. We ask this in Jesus’ name Amen.
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