Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
A good number of years ago, two of three brothers, young teens, decided to explore the deep and forbidden caves that were part of their father's property. The younger boy followed the older in a descent into the darkness. They gave no concern as to how they would get back up. The elder boy, swinging from an overhanging rock, managed to land on an outcrop. His brother quickly followed. Only then did they realize without a place to put hand or foot, there was no way out or up. By late afternoon, the father had discovered his two younger sons were missing.
It took a few hours more for the father, accompanied by the eldest son, to find the stranded siblings. Strong ropes were found, securely anchored at the top, and the oldest son was let down over the edge to begin the rescue. With skilled hands, he offered to tie a tight knot around the first of the soon-to-be-rescued brothers.
The boy refused. He thought it best to use his own hands and hold on to the rope.
The men at the top of the cave started to haul him up. As he swung out, he became afraid. He tried to swing back, but he was unable and he died unnecessarily.
The youngest brother learned from what he had just seen.
With a shaky voice, he said to the eldest, "I will do everything I am told to do."
The eldest said, "Do nothing. Let me tie the tight knot around you. Trust the knot. Trust your father up above. Do not try to grab a root or a rock. Just trust us."
The boy did just that. Trusting his father, and his brother, he was quickly hauled to safety.
That should be the end of the story. The moral should be plain. Trust God the Father's love. Trust your brother Jesus' rescue attempt. But the story, which is not mine, does not end here.
The story was first told in New York City around the year 1888. In the original audience was a ship's captain, a man who managed his men by using the most colorful of curses. Hearing the story, the part you just heard, the captain jumped to his feet and eagerly said, "Give me hold of that rope sir! Give me hold of that rope!" The whole congregation was moved by his sincerity.
But then the captain had second thoughts. The knot seemed too tight. It was too much to trust. He had always made his men fear him by swearing at them. If he became a Christian, he couldn't do that anymore. That thought made him hesitate.
Finally, the Lord really got hold of the captain. Jesus tied the knot of salvation around him, and the man let go of his worries and fears. He said something like, "Let the Lord tie a hard knot, even if I have to give up my ship."
After he returned to his ship, he told his crew he had become a Christian, and they wouldn't hear him swear any longer. Although it doesn't always work out so nicely, the captain soon discovered his men were far more willing to listen to him now than they had been before. The captain made two trips to foreign ports. On the second trip, on the way back to New York, he was taken sick. He died in his cabin. But the knot Christ had tied was tight and Jesus took him to his real home port.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, when it comes to forgiveness and salvation, help us to trust You and Jesus' precious blood. Grant that I may live and die in that grace You have given. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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