Act of Valor isn’t on the top 10 Christmas movies list, but it does give a vivid description of a rescue mission. It shows the danger a SEAL team was willing to face in order to rescue a CIA operative that had been captured and tortured by the enemy. She was injured so severely that there was nothing she could do to help with her rescue. It shows the sacrifice that team was willing to make to get her back to safety. They put their lives at risk in order to save hers. This rescue is very exciting to watch. It’s a close call to the very end because the enemy wasn’t giving her up without a fight.
This mission reminds me of how God rescues us from darkness. Before we ever whisper God, please save me, before we see that we need to be rescued, an intricate backstory has taken place. A backstory that involved the greatest rescue mission ever.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
“There’s no need for peace unless there’s a war.” Rev. Brad Mercer from Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland, MS pointed this out in a recent chapel sermon.
There has been a war going on since the beginning of time.
It’s a war that sounds like a movie plot. A war between good and evil, between the Creator of the Universe and His enemy who desperately wants to rule that same Universe. But it’s better than any movie plot – because it’s real.
God created this beautiful world, and created man and woman, made in His image. He put in the human race a need for relationship, connection, belonging.
Satan didn’t bring an army in and confront God head-on. No, he slithered in and convinced Eve that the face-to-face relationship she had with God wasn’t enough, his words cast a shadow in her mind about the goodness, love, and intention of God.
O how he must have celebrated as she and Adam bit into that fruit. He had won! The precious souls God created and loved had rejected Him and doubted His goodness. And with that bite the beautiful world God spoke into being became enemy territory.
And then, even in the messy, sorrowful brokenness, God promised to send One who would crush the head of evil. Those were fighting words. With those words God gave a whisper of hope, a promise of a rescue.
The world He made grew dark, the people He loved grew blind in the darkness. His people grew deaf to His words and the enemy’s hold on them grew stronger.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Pining means to yearn deeply for, to suffer with longing. The people made in God’s image, loved by God, people made for connection, belonging, and love, knew, even while sitting in the darkness that something was missing. They yearned deeply for what they were made for, even though they had been in the darkness for so long that they didn’t know what to call it. They only knew something was missing and they couldn’t find it in themselves.
Some turned to worshipping idols, literally turning pieces of wood and stone into objects of worship. Some turned to worshipping life in this world, living in the moment, keeping busy, or filling their lives with pleasure. Some turned to worshipping control with rigid rule keeping.
All this worship was in an effort to stop the yearning and longing. But only one Person could fulfill that longing to find connection, belonging, and love. Doesn’t that weary world sound like the world we live in and the people like you and me?
“God knows that each and every other thing we idolize holds us captive without us realizing it. He knows that every other thing we worship demands more and more from us until we have nothing left to our names but empty shells.” Meg Lynch
Through all those years God reminded His people. He whispered words of hope, words of Someone who was coming to save them.
Because God is the only one who can answer this longing, He is the only one who can set His people free. And He planned the greatest rescue mission ever.
Light broke into the darkness with an impossibility, a virgin with child. Its beacon was a bright star, and the Rescuer was a baby. God didn’t go in with guns blazing, but as the most vulnerable of all creatures.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth, A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Everything changed when the light broke into the darkness. The people who were looking for Jesus to come saw the beginning of God’s whisper of hope.
We have the whole picture.
We see that our rescue began with His birth that night in Bethlehem and progressed in His death on the cross, and was complete when He rose from the dead, bringing peace.
Not peace between good and evil, but peace between God and the people He created. This rescue mission was to get His creation, His beloved, out of the darkness, out of the enemy’s hold.
This rescue speaks to our worth and to God’s power, mercy, grace, and love and that is exactly where our enemy slithers in. Our enemy wants to make us doubt the goodness, love, and intention of God toward us. It’s called sabotage and deception – and those are war-time techniques.
We were worth this extreme rescue.
God planned this dangerous mission because He says you and I are worth fighting for, we are worth rescuing, and we were made for life in the light.
But when I watch the news, when I talk to people, when I scroll through Facebook, I see people harassed by the enemy of their soul, tossed around like waves in the ocean, living without hope, numbing their pain, surrounding themselves with layer upon layer of rules.
I see people very much like the people that lived in the days when Jesus came.
A people that need to be rescued. A people whose rescue began many years ago. And this rescue, the greatest rescue mission ever, began with a baby.
This baby makes it possible for every heart to have peace with God.
And our part in the rescue? We are like the CIA operative who was injured so severely that there was nothing she could do to help with her rescue. God doesn’t ask us to help with our rescue. He only asks us to believe.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent.” (John 6:29)
We can’t help with our rescue because it’s already been done. We only have to believe that we’ve been rescued. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Sounds like He did all the work and we just have to write a thank you note.
But what we believe, really believe, doesn’t stay inside us. Living out what we believe will make a difference in every other area of our life – our thoughts, our actions, our words. When we believe that God planned this dangerous mission because He says you and I are worth fighting for, we are worth rescuing, and we were made for life in the light, it makes a difference that lasts forever.
Where are you today? Does the thought of being rescued and having peace with God seem far-fetched? Do you feel you are too far gone, out of God’s reach? Let this crazy truth sink in. Jesus left the perfection of heaven, stepped into time and history to carry out this rescue mission with you in mind.
Wherever you are right now, whatever is going on in your life, this truth stands. You are loved by God, made in His image, made for connection, belonging, and love. You are worth fighting for and you were made to live in the light.
This post is part of my December Facebook Live series, “What Difference Does Jesus Make?” Please join me on my writer’s Facebook page, Erin Ulerich, on Wednesdays in December. I’ll be live at 6:00 a.m. CST, but the video will be available to watch whenever you can. I am looking forward to connecting with you in these few moments of sanity during December.
I am giving away this spunky little mug through a drawing. To be the lucky recipient of this mug, all you have to do is comment on the Wednesday videos in December. Let me know what you found encouraging or challenging during the video. Each week that you comment I will put your name in the drawing.