The not so small difference between a rescue and a recovery.
No one I love has ever disappeared. Physically speaking anyway.
No one in my family has ever gotten lost in the woods or vanished in a city. No boats have ever gone missing at sea, no horses returned home without a rider.
But if they had, if someone disappeared, the first and perhaps worst sentence I could hear would be this:
“We’re launching a search and recover instead of a rescue.”
That doesn’t seem like a big sentence, but it actually represents an important crossroads investigators reach in every case. It is at this point that they reveal what they truly believe about the missing person. A rescue is an effort geared at saving someone alive from a danger. A search and recover is an operation designed to retrieve a body of someone that already lost the fight to a particular danger.
Those are some rather morbid Tuesday thoughts, but they reveal something about my heart. You see, all too often in my own life, I decide that certain people are not worthy of rescue. I give up on them. I leave them on the side of the road and focus my day on search and recover efforts.
That is how things were with my friend Mac. He’s an alcoholic. When a mutual friend told me he had been arrested for DUI and was probably going to jail, I didn’t care. When my friend asked me to help raise money for his defense, I didn’t give. When that same friend said Mac needed our spiritual support, I didn’t pray.
Mac was too far gone I thought. Mac was a hopeless cause. Mac was at best, a search and recover. Give up on Mac already I said to myself inside.
Is there anyone in your life you’ve given up on? Maybe your parents hate God. Maybe, aside from God because I don’t think this is just a spiritual issue, they don’t even really like you. Maybe all the love and forgiveness you throw at them just gets thrown back in your face. And so you don’t try to rescue them anymore.
Another friend is coming to that point with his wife. She has moved out. Like two opposing armies they are gathering the pieces of their lives as evidence for what may be a drawn out, difficult custody battle. The idea of rescue is long gone. They are going to kill each other and then when the dust settles, perhaps they will search and recover what was lost.
This is a difficult life sometimes. Rescue is not easy, especially if the person missing is doing everything they can to not be found. But I think that might be what we are called to do. Yesterday on 97secondswithgod I wrote that God says he made us his “watchmen.” And I don’t think that means trying to spot dead bodies in the wilderness of the world.
I think that means going to the places where hurt reigns and offering our hands. I think that means returning to places we don’t want to ever go back to and offering our hope.
Mac is in my small group now. He’s been sober for two years now and reconciled with his wife. Some people didn’t give up on him. I did, but never again.
It has to be rescue.