An elderly gentleman lived alone on his farm. He had lived there all of his life. His home was dear to him. There was nothing special, or fancy about it, except that it was his. Each room, each wall, each window carried memories that were precious to him.
From that old homestead he had watched the seasons come and go year after year. It was a secure place. Wind storms had swept through the town, but his home was safe. Tornadoes had touched nearby farms, but somehow his house escaped. Drought had dried up water supplies at times through the years, but still, with his well, he had always managed. He had become familiar with the quirks of nature and was not afraid of her. Floods had come and gone, but through the decades none had ever reached to the top of the first doorstep.
One spring the rains were heavier than usual. The river rose. Grandpa kept an eye on it, wondering where it would peak this year. He had watched this scene many times through the years. As it deepened, he may have worried a little over the crops in the lower field hoping he wouldn't lose them.
As he looked out over the fields and across the river, he could see neighbors leaving their homes. Too bad, he thought. It's too bad that people build so low that their homes get ruined with every little flood. Turning on his radio, he heard the warnings for all people living in his area to evacuate. Unconcerned, he turned it off and went on with his chores.
A knock came at the door. Opening it he found his granddaughter. "Grandpa," she said excitedly, "there's going to be a big flood, and we have come to get you! Come, get in the car with us, hurry."
Grandpa chuckled as he looked into the big eyes full of wonder. "Listen, sweetheart," he said, "don't you worry about your old Gramps, he's going to be just fine. No flood ever bothered this old house, and it ain't going to this time, either."
The little girl hesitated, then turned and left. "Mommy, he doesn't want to come," she reported.
"I was afraid of that," Mother sighed. "Well, I'll go see if I can change his mind."
Soon she was back at the car. "It's no use, he just won't come. He's sure nothing will ever happen to the old home place." With an anxious heart she drove away. The river continued to rise. Warnings by radio to evacuate increased in intensity, but Grandpa was sure the water would never get deep enough to endanger him.
Mother reported Grandpa's decision to the officials asking them to help if the water got too deep. Soberly shaking their heads they said, "We'll see what we can do, Ma'am, but with an angry river like that, we can't promise anything."
As the water deepened, a small boat was dispatched to search for stranded people. Valiantly, the men struggled against the wind and rain. The angry water sucked and swirled and threatened to toss them out and wash them downstream with the logs and debris they were tensely dodging.
Finally, they reached the tiny island on which Grandpa's house now stood. Instead of the grateful thanks they expected, an irritated voice answered their knock. "Can't you leave me alone?" he challenged. "I'll stay here as long as I wish. Haven't you ever seen a flood before? This river's been like this before, and I'm perfectly safe. Now, be gone." The bewildered men finally left. Grandpa had just refused his last chance at rescue.
That night brought a record-breaking flood. The morning light revealed the tragedy of Grandpa's decision. The house was gone. Only the foundations remained after the waters went down.
Friend, do you want to be rescued? Do you see the danger and feel the need? Today, every person is going to be rescued or destroyed but it is not up to chance as it was for the people of Smyrna. Like Grandpa, each of us has been warned in time and has been provided a chance to escape.
Four thousand years ago, millions of people were in need of a rescue. Again a ship was needed to take them safely. God provided the ship through the hard work of Noah and his family, but a strange thing happened. No one would board the ship. What was the problem? They didn't know they were in danger. Like Grandpa, they refused to believe that they needed to be rescued. Warning after warning came, but the warnings were scoffed at. Thus only eight people boarded that ship and were saved. Genesis 6 through 9 tells of that sad account.
Jesus said, "As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37). Today's lesson is about the greatest rescue of all ages. Are you ready for it? Are we? You can be, but first, you must go to Calvary and receive a cleansed heart, a changed heart. A heart that daily surrenders to Jesus so that the word pardon can be written by your name with the blood of the Lord Jesus. May God bless you as you seek to be one of those who accept this last glorious rescue.