the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

The Life Raft
March 19, 2009, 9:50 am
Filed under: Stories

I know it’s been a minute since I blogged… and I feel like it. I got this story in an email yesterday and thought it was worth passing along. I’ll work on writing some of MY thoughts for the next go-round.


After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the  church’s pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave  his sermon for the evening, he  briefly introduced a guest minister who  was in the service that evening.

In  the introduction, the pastor told the congregation that the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that  he wanted him to have a few moments to  greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the  service. With  that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit  and began to speak.

A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the pacific coast, ‘he began. ‘When  a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to the  shore. ‘The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he  could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the  boat capsized.

the  old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who  were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested  in his story. The  aged minister continued with his story, ‘grabbing  a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his  life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the life line.

He  only had seconds to make the decision. The  father knew that his son was a Christian and he, also, knew that his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of  waves. As  the father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ he threw out the life line to his son’s friend.

By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.’

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth.

‘The  father,’ he continued, ‘knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend.

‘How  great is the love of god that he should do the same for us. Our heavenly father sacrificed his only begotten son that we could be saved. I urge you to  accept his offer to rescue you and take a hold of the life line he is throwing out to you in this service.’

With  that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the  room. The  pastor again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon with an  invitation at the end. However, no one responded to the  appeal. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s  side.

‘That  was a nice story,’ politely stated one of them,’but i don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.’

‘Well, you’ve got a point there,’ the old man replied, glancing down at his worn  bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face. He once again looked up at the boys and said, ‘it sure isn’t very realistic, is it?  But, I’m standing here today  to tell you that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for  god to give up his son for me. You see, ‘I was that father and your pastor is my son’s friend.’


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