“He’s only eleven years old,” Russell’s mother sobbed. She hid her face in her hands and cried.
Her husband squeezed her shoulder and said, “I’ll be back when I find him.” He tried to sound reassuring, but he didn’t believe that they would ever find him, not really.
Russell and his parents had been driving across the mountains when a blizzard struck the mountain pass. Dad had heard the forecast, but convinced himself that he could beat the weather. When they became stuck, they stayed with the car; that’s always best. After three days trapped in the car and no hope of being found soon, though, Dad decided to try to walk for help. A few days later, he returned with help.
He found his wife in the car where he left her, but his son had vanished. The boy had gotten out of the car to look for his dad, but never returned.
Mom had begged him to stay in the car and later frantically searched for him, but his tracks had been covered with fresh snow. He was nowhere to be found.
Now Dad joined a rescue team that would search the entire area. “I got to be honest with you,” said Captain Lourdes, in charge of the search party. The odds of finding your son alive are slim.”
“I have to try. I just can’t do nothing. He needs me.” Dad wept.
When they found him, Russell clung to an ice covered rock, perched on the side of the mountain. Hundreds of feet below him was a snow field that slanted into a deep mountain valley. How he made it through the past couple days and nights alive, no one knew.
“Daddy’s gotcha, Rusty.” Dad’s voice quivered as he watched the firemen hook his son to a secure line.
Once they had him off the side of the mountain and into their truck, Dad thanked Caitain Lourdes and turn embraced the boy. “I love you, Rusty.” The boy was too cold and too much in shock to speak.
“We’re only 14 miles up the mountain from the Ranger Station. It’s all downhill from here. There are lots of hills and curves and bumps in the road, but you’ll make it. The station is just across the river, but be careful,” said Lourdes, “crossing the river can be tricky, especially in the winter.” He tossed Rusty a book. “This book will answer all your questions. It’s a good book. You should read it every day. It will keep you safe. Once you cross the river, a chopper will pick you up and take you home.”
Rusty’s jaw dropped as the Captain pushed him out of the truck.
“I can’t wait until I catch that chopper someday,” said Dad as he climbed into the truck. “Don’t you worry, Rusty. Captain Lourdes and I will be waiting for you at the station. Now that you’re saved, you can follow the road with no problem.”
“Well, maybe a few problems,” said the captain.
“A few, agreed Dad. “But just read the book. You’ll know what to do.”
The men all piled into the truck and headed down the mountain.
Rusty, watched the truck drive away. Still in shock, still bitter cold, still starving, he pulled off his gloves and looked at the thin black book in his hand. “Gospel of John,” it read. Rusty read the first two chapters, stuck it in his pocket, and trudged down the road.
It began to snow again making it difficult to follow the path of the truck. Rusty never felt the little book fall from his pocket. Just after dark, he left the road for the shelter of some nearby trees. He wondered if he would ever make it to the Ranger Station.
“Found him,” Dad said to Mom when he returned to the station. “We put him on the right road. He’ll be home someday soon.”
“Oh, thank you,” Mom cried.
Silly analogy, I know. Unfortunately, Rusty’s experience is very much the way that many Christians teach our walk with God: we wander far from home, Our Lord goes looking for us. We are saved. So far so good. But, here is where some Christian teaching goes wrong. Salvation doesn’t mean saying a prayer and then continuing on the same path you’ve been on. It doesn’t mean your are saved and then left to find your way through life alone. It doesn’t mean reading a few pages of the Bible and then magically conquering all of life’s challenges.
Salvation is the beginning of a journey home, hand in hand with God through the power of The Holy Spirit. The One Who rescues you, also guides you home. He is with us every step of the way. He will help us understand the guide book. He will help us discern between correct teaching and unsound teaching. He will teach us right from wrong. And He will speak to us when we need guidance or when we are afraid. He is with us when we feel all alone.
Aren’t you glad that when our Father saves us, He doesn’t leave us alone like Rusty?