His bright helmet stands out against the gray rubble left by the Mexican earthquake. He bends over, peering intensely into a small cave in the collapsed building. Reaching through the broken rebar, he croons, “Come my love, come my love, don’t cry.” The crowd around him becomes intensely silent. “Come my love, don’t cry,” he repeats in a soothing voice filled with love. Finally, a frightened child appears in the opening, his cries piercing the silence. The man grabs him, hugging him tightly. The crowd erupts in joy. Another child has been rescued!
Amidst my tears, I hear echoes of other search and rescue stories – in the Christian scriptures. God is in a beautiful garden looking for his companions, Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” he calls (Gen.3: 8-9).
Jesus tells his disciples, “If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matt. 18: 12 -14).
Saul is on a road to Damascus, on another mission to protect the purity of his religion. These Christ-followers are turning the world upside down and they must be stopped. The story in Acts reports that he is “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” A light from heaven flashes around him and a voice calls him. And then his world changes! (Acts 9)
Our God is a God of love who pursues us, calling us from our personal caves, from our selfish lives, from our prejudices and hatred. Our Creator sees our value no matter what we have done to scar it. He holds out his hand and says, “Come my love, don’t cry.” And a crowd of watching angels erupts in joy when we take God’s hand and crawl out of the darkness.
But our story does not stop with our rescue. We are then called to offer that same opportunity for rescue and grace to those around us. It doesn’t matter what cave they are in. It doesn’t matter what color their skin is, what lifestyle they live, what religious practice they follow, what language they speak, what politics they hold dear. Our attitude must be, “Come my love, don’t cry.”