I’m sure we’ve all heard this little story before, but it bears repeating. Once, in a small town, not unlike Wattsburg, their lived a man of great faith who believed that, no matter what troubles may come his way, God would save him. It happened one day that there was a terrible storm and flash flood warnings went out, urging people to evacuate the town before it was too late. But the man refused to leave. “Nope,” he said. “I’m not worried. God will save me.”
Sure enough, the floods came, and the water forced the man to go to the second floor of his house where, looking out the window, he saw a rescue boat swing by. “Jump in and we’ll take you to safety,” the rescue team said. “Nope,” said the man, “I’m not worried. God will save me.” So off went the boat. Then, a little later, the water rose so high that the man had to climb up on his roof, from where he saw a rescue helicopter swing by. Lowering the ladder, the crew on the helicopter called out, “Climb up and we’ll fly you to safety.” “Nope,” said the man. “I’m not worried. God will save me.” So off went the helicopter.
Finally, the waters crashed over the man’s roof and washed him into the flood, where he drowned. Standing before the judgment seat of God, the man was furious and demanded, “God, I put all of my faith in you and believed with all my heart that you would save me. Why did you let me drown?” And the Lord answered, “My child, what in heaven are you talking about? I tried to save you, but you refused my help.” Dumbfounded, the man asked, “But when? How?” God answered, “I sent you the flood warning, a rescue boat, even a helicopter. What more could I have done?”
The scribes in today’s gospel have the same problem as the man in the flood. They are so fixated on their idea of how God works that they completely miss his saving presence in their lives in other ways, even when it’s staring them right in the face. Jesus doesn’t fit their image of God, and so they can’t believe that God was at work in him. That is why they can’t be saved. It isn’t that God doesn’t want to save them. It’s that they refuse his help by rejecting the very person who was sent for their salvation.
Like the man in the flood and the scribes in the gospel, how often can we too be narrow-minded about how God works in our lives. We all have our own image of God. The problem is that sometimes we confuse our limited image of God with God himself. We close ourselves off from the possibility that maybe God is bigger than my feeble attempts to envision him; maybe even that my image of God is completely wrong. We need to open our minds and hearts ever-wider to new possibilities, to new and unexpected ways that God may be at work in my life for my salvation.
Our God is infinite. There is no limit to the ways he can enter our lives and save us. Be on the lookout for the unexpected lifelines that God throws you each day; they may come from the last place you’d think to look.