Skier Francis Zuber was zipping down the tree lined slopes of Mt. Baker in northwestern Washington state when he lost control and ended up toppling into the deep powder off the trail. As he worked to right himself, he noticed a snow board protruding from a deep drift. This alone was an unusual sight. But crazier still, the board was moving!
It took him only moments to realize that someone was attached to that board, but apparently buried upside down under the depths of the drift.
He worked quickly to take off his skis so he could make his way to the stranded snowboarder, where he then began feverishly digging to extricate him. Breathless and weary, he just kept scraping at the snow looking for any signs of life. He eventually pulled out a small, yellow rescue shovel (that's one well prepared skier!) to enhance his efforts.
“Hold on! I’m coming! … Hey, you gonna be alright? Can you hear me?”
As he freed the trapped boarder's arms, he exclaimed, “Come on! Help me out! You okay? You alright?”
When he finally reached and uncovered the victim’s helmet, he said with relief, “Okay, you’re good. You’re good. I gotcha. You okay? Can you breathe?
A quiet “yeah” can be heard from beneath the helmet.
“Okay” said Zuber breathlessly, “we’re both gonna just catch our breath and then I’m gonna dig you out, okay?”
Though faint and weak, one can hear the gratitude in the simple, relieved reply, “Thank you.”
Zuber, an unlikely and unexpected hero, stepped up to rescue a stranger from certain death.
We only have such clear and comprehensive details of the harrowing rescue because Zuber was wearing a sports camera on his helmet, recording every moment.
Be sure to click here to watch the heart-pounding video in its entirety.
Like an exuberant skier, we go zipping over the rough and tumble slopes of this life, so engrossed in our own thrills (and spills), that we fail to notice the mass of humanity all around us, buried upside down in the drifts of life — dying people “stuck” in despair, hopelessness, full of fear and regret, feeling utterly alone and invisible.
No doubt that’s how the bruised and beaten man felt, left for dead by robbers on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, as he lay dying in the street. Many passed by him, walked around him, ignored him. Then one man finally noticed him, took pity, and stepped in to help.
“… and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him” (Luke 10:33b-34, NIV).
An unlikely, unexpected hero, the Samaritan, stepped up to save a dying man.
Does God call us to anything less? No! In fact, He calls us to something more. He calls us to not just “happen” upon these dying ones, but actively, intentionally, purposefully keep our eyes peeled for them, peeled for any signs of life, so that we can jump into action to offer them a life line — the good news of the Gospel.
Don’t turn a blind eye. Be a hero! Look for those whose lives are buried under the burdens of life without Jesus. And with the same feverish urgency and intensity of Francis Zuber, go dig them out!
Then listen for the breathless, relieved reply ... "Thank you."
"He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15, NIV).
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:14, NIV).
Martin Pistorius was just 12 years old when a mysterious illness began slowly robbing him of his ability to walk, talk, or communicate on any level. Finally, he descended into a vegetative state that left the doctors baffled and his family despairing. His parents were told to “take their son home because his time left was limited.” But his time wasn’t limited. “Martin just kept going, just kept going,” said his mother.
The first two years, Martin was indeed in a coma-like condition, motionless, unresponsive, and utterly unconscious. But some two years into his ordeal, his mind began to wake up. Unfortunately, his mind was the only thing that began to awaken. Martin was soon fully conscious, but unable to communicate with the outside world. No one, not even his closest caretakers or doctors knew that he could hear and see everything going on around him.
Martin felt trapped, claustrophobic, terrified, and felt that he would surely go insane. His lowest moment came when he heard his mother say, “I hope you die.” So full of despair, she later (unsuccessfully) attempted to take her own life. As for his father, “For the next decade, his father's life consisted of getting up early in the morning, driving his helpless son to a special care center, then picking him up eight hours later and driving him home, where he would be bathed, fed and put to bed,” reports the UK DAILY MAIL.
But Martin remained trapped in a frozen body. “‘I knew who I was and where I was, and understood I’d been robbed of a real life.”
Suddenly, after more than a decade of imprisonment within his own body, Martin began to once again feel his members. Slowly and painstakingly, movement followed, and then came rigorous rehabilitation. In his late 20s, he learned to use a computer to speak. Soon after, he got a government job. Then he graduated from college with a degree in computer science, started his own web design company and married his wife Joanna in 2008.
“Martin Pistorious' story may sound far-fetched,” reports Snopes.com, “but The National Institute of Neurological Orders and Stroke states ‘locked-in syndrome’ is in fact a real disorder:
Locked-in syndrome is a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body except for those that control eye movement. It may result from traumatic brain injury, diseases of the circulatory system, diseases that destroy the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, or medication overdose. Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and can think and reason, but are unable to speak or move. The disorder leaves individuals completely mute and paralyzed. Communication may be possible with blinking eye movements.
Martin’s amazing and unbelievable story is once again in the news thanks to a recent book THE GHOST BOY and a new NPR radio show Invisibilia which featured Martin’s story in its first episode January 9, 2015.
It's hard to imagine the claustrophobic fear, or the hopeless bondage of being "locked-in" one's own body, unable to walk, talk or communicate with the outside world. Sadly, there is an even more fearful bondage, one that is far more common. It's the vegetative state suffered by every person who is cut off from God by sin. Though robbed of real life, they do not live without hope. For in Christ, even those who are "dead in transgressions and sins" can find newness of life (Ephesians 2:1).
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope" (Ephesians 2:12, NLT).
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).
"Sometimes," reports entertainment correspondent Megan Basham of WORLD Magazine, "it’s worth covering a television series or film not because it offers an edifying or even innocuous way to spend an hour, but because it reveals something noteworthy about the mindset of our culture. The Leftovers, a new supernatural drama on HBO," she says, "is just such a show."
The show follows the lives of citizens of a small town as they try to come to grips following a "rapture-like event" which caused some two percent of the world's population to simply disappear, "and depicts with uncomfortable authenticity the psychological toll it would take on a society to have demonstrable evidence that they’ve been left behind."
The Leftovers doesn't claim to be a biblical depiction of events. It does not claim to know or even purport that God was necessarily the one responsible for the "departure" of the missing. What it concerns itself with is the burden, the abandonment, the loneliness and despair of those who didn't "depart."
Those who remain cannot make sense of the "departure." Some are now living an aimless existence, robotically walking through life more like zombies than human beings. Others are angry, despairing, hopeless (inject your dark adjective here). Interestingly, many have simply chosen to go on as if nothing even happened.
"Even if it doesn’t recognize the gospel," notes Basham, "it recognizes the problem the gospel solves. Without the love and grace inherent in a relationship with the Creator, this—burden and abandonment, sin and loneliness—is all that is ultimately left to the created."
"Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly" (Psalm 38:3-5).