The airwaves crackled with radio calls that day. A U.S. attack helicopter had been forced to crash land in the desert just north of Baghdad and about 20 soldiers, members of Delta Force, had arrived to help protect it and fly the wounded to safety… but the rescuers soon found themselves under heavy attack from al-Qaeda.
“Mayday, mayday!” was the frantic call for help. Mortars, rounds, RPG’s, and two trucks outfitted with machine guns headed their way… they were taking a beating and with no place to hide, the troops needed immediate help.
“We had called our people, our command, and requested tank support, helicopter support, anything to help us because we were being overrun,” the radioman later reported. “Nobody would help us. They couldn’t get in because it was too hot.”
Then, miraculously, Troy Gilbert appeared in his F-16.
Enemy forces were too close to civilians and US troops to bomb, so Gilbert dropped fast and low- to a mere 200 feet above the desert. His cockpit warning system blared into his headset, “Pull up, pull up, pull up!”
He did, but not until after he’d unloaded his six-barreled Gatling gun into a truck full of al-Qaeda fighters.
Gilbert screamed into a right turn and circled back to open up again, this time on the second truck. He fired two bursts at the second truck before pulling hard on the control stick to regain altitude… but it was too late.
His son, now 19, says, “He had to act quickly, and within a matter of seconds. Knowing him, there was no other option [but successfully completing his mission].”
The F-16 was pointing up when it slammed tail first into the ground less than a second after those gun bursts.
Air Force investigators said, “This motivation to immediately support friendly forces under fire produced a series of decisions and flight parameters that left little room for recovery on the first strafe pass, and no possibility of recovery on the second pass. Gilbert died because of his excessive motivation to succeed.”
In other words, Troy Gilbert made a choice that day to rescue his fellow Americans at the cost of his own life.
You may wonder why I’m telling you the story of Troy Gilbert on Easter and here’s why:
Somebody came after you.
Do you get that?
You were in dire straights, under attack, hopeless, stranded, abandoned by everyone else and doomed for a massive takedown by a ruthless enemy… and Someone came after you.
At the cost of His own life, he showed up to redeem yours.
Friends, that’s a big deal. I know sometimes we become so familiar with the facts of the gospel and going through religious motions that we forget what actually and really occurred. We forget how desperate we were and the Divine intervention… and cost… that was made on our behalf.
When feasting at the table of grace, we can forget the excruciating act of love done for an unknown struggler on the backside of the desert.
But I also know something else. I know that someone reading this still needs to be rescued. You are in that desert right now and the enemy is closing in. You’re a goner, an unknown, a hopeless one sending your “mayday, mayday!” with no one responding.
You aren’t sure God is on your side and you don’t know how to get His attention. You are bleeding out and no one cares. If you were to die tonight, you aren’t sure you’d go to heaven.
Friend, you can settle that right now. I can’t rescue you but I can tell you how to call out to the Redeemer who will. He is standing by, on the alert, scanning the skies and ready to swoop down just for you. Today, on this Easter Sunday, it is my joy and privilege to tell you how in 4 simple steps.
1. Acknowledge your need. Our universal problem isn’t ISIS, cancer, betrayal or our circumstances. It’s our own sin. Sin is what’s separated us from God and the consequences of sin is death. This means physical death but it also means spiritual death. (See Romans 6:23) Your sin is the biggest problem in your life, wreaking havoc… and it’s one you can’t deal with on your own.
2. Accept God’s provision for sin. God sent a perfect Redeemer to rescue you from sin. When you were without hope, separated from God, and doomed to an eternity in hell, God acted. Independent of you, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die in your place so that you could have His righteousness. Jesus willingly took your place. He is the only way to God because He is the only One who perfectly fulfilled the requirements of God on your behalf.
3. Place your full trust in Jesus Christ and what He did. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God asks you to believe this amazing news! He doesn’t ask you to go to church, read your Bible, fast, pray, clean up your act or stand on your head in order to be rescued. He asks that you believe He is THAT good and THAT competent, that He singlehandedly accomplished everything on your behalf. This is amazing! The sad thing is, many people won’t believe it because they find it too simple.
4. Surrender your life to the Lordship of Christ. When Jesus becomes your rescuer, He also becomes your Lord. Just as a drowning person, we must relinquish control of our own lives in order to be rescued. Jesus will transfer you from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of light, which means He doesn’t redeem you so you can build your own little castle and live life however you want. He redeems us that we may “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9).
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Christianity isn’t just a fire insurance policy. It is a new life of following a new master (Jesus). We daily take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). If you are ready for this new life, simply call out to Him! He is near and ready to save. Acknowledge your need, accept God’s provision, place your trust in Christ, and surrender your life to Him.
Happy Easter my friend. My prayer is that today, each and every one reading this exults in the Greatest Rescue Mission of all time and the greatest victory He accomplished when He rose again. Praise GOD!!!