One balmy Summer day in 1997 Rita Rupp (57) from Tulsa Oklahoma, was on a lengthy road trip with her husband Floyd (67). For no reason in particular, she began to sense that they may be in danger. She started thinking, ‘What if someone hijacks our car and kidnaps us? No one even realize we’re missing for days, and no one would come looking for us.’ So she hatched a plan.
Rita wrote a note, just in case she got kidnapped. She scrawled the note in appropriately distressed handwriting, “Help I’ve been kidnapped. Call the Highway Patrol.” She also supplied her name and a helpful description of the van they were driving.
This eccentric emergency plan would actually have proven to be a pretty good idea in the event that at some point she had actually been kidnapped, and managed to dispatch the note before being incapacitated.
At the idea was rather harmless, albeit a bit quirky. Except for one unforeseen eventuality. Mrs Rupp’s paranoia would have remained her private problem if on a bathroom break at a gas station the note hadn’t inadvertently dropped out of her handbag. Oops.
A conscientious attendant found the alarming note and quickly notified the authorities who then immediately issued alerts, mobilized patrol vehicles, and set up road blocks in four states. (Here is the New York Times article that proves I’m not making this up).
All the while, Mr and Mrs Rupp were cruising along to their destination, blissfully unaware of the multi-agency, national rescue operation that been launched to save them.
Eventually, Mr Rupp called his workplace to brag about the ocean view he was enjoying. His colleague responded, “You have no idea what’s going on, do you?” Evidently he didn’t. I wonder if this type of behavior from his dear wife was something he had grown accustomed to. (Incidentally, Floyd is a chiropractor so he is used to dealing with a recurring pain in the neck).
In the spiritual realm, many people are blissfully unaware of the epic, eon-spanning rescue operation that has been underway on their behalf for millennia. They coast blithely through life without any idea of the sacrifice and planning that has been invested in their salvation. But unlike Mr and Mrs Rupp, everyone does actually need to be rescued, wether they realize it or not.
As we prepare for the Christmas season, let’s use the opportunity to link the ubiquitous baby in a manger scene to the metanarrative of the rest of the Bible: God’s orchestration and execution of the ultimate rescue operation, launched in the recesses of pre-history and culminating in the advent of the God-Man Jesus Christ. Here are some verses with which to inscribe our Christmas cards…
Ephesians 1:4 “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
Colossians 1:13-14 “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Romans 5:6, 9 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. … Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
Luke 1: 67-74 “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”
Salvation season’s greetings.