Rescued from the cave of sin

Published 8:37 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

In a few weeks, we’ll celebrate the first responders in our midst. Although we’re more aware of the police and fire departments, there are a variety of first responders including air-sea rescue, cave rescue, swift-water rescue, wilderness rescue and others. 

I’m fascinated by cave rescues, because as a high school student, some of my friends and I would roam our local countryside in search of caves to explore.

We’d put sleeping bags in the back of a station wagon and ride from cave to cave resting on the sleeping bags when we got a chance. In one cave, I found myself in total darkness and was walking along trying to find someone with a flashlight. Suddenly a light flashed into the “room” and I realized I was standing on the edge of a 15-foot drop onto a rocky cave floor. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to needing a cave rescue.

In 1925, the first high-profile cave rescue in history made headlines after 10,000 people watched volunteers attempt to rescue Floyd Collins in Sand Cave, Kentucky. He died despite the heroic efforts of volunteers to reach him and his body was recovered two months later when a German engineering crew finally dug a shaft and brought his body out.

According to Wikipedia, the world’s first cave rescue team, the Cave Rescue Organization, was founded in 1935 in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Like all cave-rescue operations in the UK, it’s composed of volunteers, funded by donations, and maintains a list of 200 or more skilled “cavers” who are on call.

The pioneer cave rescue team in the United States, created in the 1960s, is the Cave Rescue Communications Network operating out of Washington, DC and covering the mid-Atlantic area. Most southeastern cave rescue teams average 15-20 members. Fortunately, there are only an average 40-50 cave rescues a year across North America.

“From the bottom of the pit, O Lord, I cried out to you, And when I begged you to listen to my cry, you heard. You answered me and told me not to be afraid. ‘You came to my rescue, Lord, and saved my life. Judge in my favor; you know the wrongs done against me. You know how my enemies hate me and how they plot against me (Lamentations 3).’”

We preachers like to use big words to describe our faith — prevenient grace, justification, salvation, sanctification, and perfection. It might better and easier to use words everybody understands — we could say we’re trapped in a pit (cave) of sin and God sent his son down a shaft to rescue us from the darkness.