"Living the Rescued Life "
July 10, 2017
Romans 7:24-25a - What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
In the sermon yesterday, I talked about repentance and faith -- living life in the knowledge that it is all God's gift for you in the person and work of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. As I thought about what that might look like for you and me, how would it feel? The word "rescue" came to mind. Can you imagine a life where you are totally lost, totally abandoned, without hope, and then you are rescued? That's the picture the Bible paints of our need for God, our separated predicament, and the cross-earned invitation to receive His rescue by grace alone, through faith in Jesus -- rescued to live a rescued life for others.
Rescued! That's what happened to Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Do you know who she is? She was the last one rescued from the towers on 9/11.
Guzman-McMillan had just moved from her town in Trinidad to New York in 1998. She got a good steady job at one of the World Trade Towers and was excited as she began her first day there on January 19, 2001. She made many friends through work, including her boyfriend, Roger, and spent each weekend partying. She said, "I came to America, looking for fame, glamour, and money." She thought she had it all.
On the morning of 9/11, 2001, that would change dramatically, and she would later say that it changed her life, too. She went to her job on the 64th floor. She and her coworkers heard a loud crash and the building moved. She and a coworker started down the stairs and made it to the 13th floor. That is when the whole building collapsed around them. Steel and concrete pinned her where she was; she was injured, but she was alive. She lay there unable to move.
At first she was relieved to be alive. But as hours went by, she panicked that she was in for a long, slow death. "The wreckage felt like my tomb," she says.
Twenty-seven hours after the building collapsed, she was able to push her hand through a few inches of rubble above her head and felt somehow someone's warm hand close around hers. Then she heard a male voice say to her: "I've got you, Genelle. My name is Paul," he told her. "You're going to be okay. They're going to get you out, real soon."
She heard other voices, sirens, and a light. "They're here," Paul said. "I'm going to go and let them do their jobs and get you out."
Guzman-McMillan was the last survivor pulled from the World Trade Center. There were three things she promised God she would do as soon as she got out of the hospital: she would get baptized, marry her boyfriend Roger, and she would find Paul, the one who first held her hand.
On November 7, after six weeks in the hospital, four surgeries, and hours of physical therapy and rehabilitation, she kept two promises she made while trapped under the rubble. She and Roger got married at City Hall, and she was baptized.
But Paul? She never found him. Who was he? No one knew. No one had ever heard of him. She called her pastor and asked him about it. Finally, they discussed another Paul, the one in the Bible who, too, was totally in the dark, like Genelle, and fought against God until he saw the light of Jesus Christ.
Guzman-McMillan, like Paul, was never the same again. And that my friends is a glimpse of the life that Jesus offers you and me. Sinners need rescue in every way possible, and only the Son of God -- the Christmas Lord, the Easter Lord -- can make that possible for you. Trust Him. He comes through the rubble of your life and mine to rescue us, now and forever.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, let the joy of being rescued in Jesus Christ fill our hearts today and give us an eternal perspective to the lives we get to live in Christ for others. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries