He had fallen and landed on a ledge. He needed help.
I had a group of student climbers out on the rock for an all-day class on leading and anchors. I could see another party on the rock to my left. One of their members was laying on a ledge some distance below the top. He looked to be injured and unconscious. When I called up to them to inquire, the leader indicated the man had fallen.
Calling my team together, we cleared our gear and hoofed it around to the top of the climb where the man was down. Poor anchoring and belay practices had led to this man falling about 40 feet, head-first, onto a granite ledge. He lay unconscious with potentially fatal head and neck injuries. Yet he was fortunate in a way. Below the ledge that had stopped his fall was another drop of nearly 300 feet.
We quickly set up our own anchors and belayed four of our team down to the ledge, where our two first-responders began first aid. About 90 minutes later, a rescue team arrived and took over the leadership of this high-angle operation. A helicopter arrived, providing oxygen and IV fluids for the victim. After about two hours of anchoring, lowering team members, and working on the victim, we had him stable enough to move. Secured in the Stokes litter, he was safely brought to the top. He was transferred to the helicopter and flown to a hospital some fifty miles away. The victim survived. The rescue and transfer, and ultimately the climber’s healing, were successful.
This story speaks to the gifts we celebrate each Christmas. Gifts we can celebrate each day of the year. Colossians 1:13-24 explains what I mean. “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Rescued us from the power of darkness….” “Rescued” is from the Greek meaning “rescued or delivered out of.” To deliver someone from a situation in which he or she is fully immersed. In this case He rescues us because we were already completely controlled by the power of darkness. Literally, the “tyrannical rule of darkness.” We were already goners. Unless a rescue was initiated, we were beyond hope and doomed -helpless, hapless, hopeless. And into this hopeless situation our God steps to rescue the helpless and hapless. To rescue you and me. But He’s not done.
“…and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” “Transfer” is from the Greek meaning “remove from one place to another.” To be picked up and physically relocated to a new place or position. Picture a helicopter rescue, in which the person in precarious danger with no chance for self-rescue is removed from the position of danger and transferred to a place of safety and assistance. In our case, we are transferred into the kingdom of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Without a relationship with our God, we are like our hapless climber on the ledge. Without hope on our own. Desperately needing someone to get us off the ledge and transfer us to safety and assistance. We need rescue, transfer, healing. This is what our God has offered to us.
This is why the coming of Jesus Christ to earth as a human is celebrated. He came to make possible our rescue, our transfer, our healing. This is why we can celebrate Christmas every day, all year long.
(Photo of same type of law enforcement helicopter used in the rescue described, and at the same location on Tollhouse Rock, California. This photo is of a different rescue operation.)