Try has he may, the car refused to start. Even the battery wanted nothing to do with those frigid winter temperatures. That was just his luck. Charles dreaded the walk to the pharmacy, but he knew his mother needed her medication; she always needed something. As he walked along the bank of the river, carrying about his normal routine of grumbling and complaining to himself, he couldn’t help but relate to those cold, turbulent waters. The river would have frozen over completely if not for that strong current. The air was crisp and unforgiving, the kind that bites at your ears and nose. “I wish this wretched snow would melt!” Charles scoffed, “I’m getting too old for this bitter cold!”
As he carried about, recalling all that was wrong with the day, Charles lost his footing and slipped down the steep of the bank. He groped frantically at the hillside hoping to find anchor, but alas he slid straight into the freezing current. The chill of a thousand needles penetrated his body as he cried for help, but not a soul was to be found. He flailed around in desperate panic, but the current was too strong to be overcome. He was drowning.
Charles wasn’t particularly religious, but the throes of death will do something to a man. Though he wasn’t normally given to prayer, the desperation of his circumstance left him with no other recourse. The current was picking up pace and he simply hadn’t the strength to reach the bank. “Dear God,” he gasped, “Please help!” His face dipped in and out of the water as he struggled for breath. “If you’ll… give me just one more chance… I promise I’ll do better.”
His eyes blurred from the frigid water, his mind racing in the stillness of time that only exists in a moment of catastrophe. Gripped with fear he recalled the friends he would never see again. He thought of his mother who had nobody to care for her. What would the waitress at his favorite diner think when he didn’t show up for lunch that afternoon? Oh, the things he would miss; the things he had taken for granted!
“Please God,” he gasped in a desperate last attempt, “Save me!” The words had barely fled his lips when an overhanging tree let loose of its dying limb. With a forceful snap the branch plummeted into the river below. Charles reached out and, stretching as far as he could, grasped the bark encrusted buoy and pulled himself on top of it. He clung to the branch for dear life. As he caught his breath he suddenly began to pray, “Never mind, God. I found a branch!”
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” ~ Jeremiah 23:5
How often do we, like our fictional character Charles, take things for granted? The music we hear, the people we love, or a walk outdoors on a brisk winter day? Do we fail to recognize the miracle God gives us each morning? Every day is truly a gift from our Creator. Every breath we take is an opportunity to thank Him for another day of life. It’s true that God answers prayer in ways that are often unexpected. He sees the bigger picture. Give Him thanks for the little things and the big because, rather we realize it or not, He gives us a life-saving branch each and every day.
Father in Heaven, thank You for saving us! Truly You have sent us a Branch. By Your grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves. It’s Your gift to us through Your Son Jesus Christ. You are our God, and we are Your people. In the bitter cold You are with us. In the anxieties of life, You are there. When we feel like we’re drowning, Lord, You rescue us. Your unfailing love follows us wherever we go. Help us to be more like You—gentle, loving, and selfless. In You we have life. We thank You and praise You in Jesus name, Amen.