By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published September 4, 2014
There was a man who lived by some treacherous cliffs in Sydney, Australia. When he saw someone who seemed intent on committing suicide, he would gently invite them back to his home for a cup of tea and a little conversation.
Over the years hundreds of lives were saved due to the efforts of this man, who became known as “the angel of the gap.” Sometimes that’s all it takes to stop something terrible from happening. Just a small gesture offered at the exact right time.
When I was a little girl, the sisters told me that Jesus died on the cross to save me. I didn’t get that, though, because I didn’t know what I needed saving from. It took a few experiences of being rescued by human beings before I could grasp the much deeper notion of redemption.
There was the time when I was in second grade and desperately longed to have a store-bought costume for a masquerade party. I pleaded fervently with my mother, but she was adamant that we simply didn’t have that kind of money. And so I wandered around the house, snuffling loudly and feeling completely misunderstood.
My mother’s younger sister was a widow, and she and her two toddlers were living with us at the time. When my aunt saw me whimpering, she gently came to my rescue by taking me to her room and letting me rummage around in her closet. She helped me select a few pieces of glitzy costume jewelry and some showy scarves that turned me into a fine rendition of a gypsy. That was the first time I experienced the feeling that someone had saved me from sorrow.
We must now fast forward the calendar to many decades later. After graduate school I got married, moved to Atlanta and landed a job teaching English and philosophy at Georgia Tech. When the marriage crumbled, I moved into my own small apartment with my sole companion being Funky, a large gray-and-white tomcat. Although he was good company, he couldn’t replace a human being, and I often got lonely.
Then one day, out of the blue, a fine-looking fellow named Jeffrey decided to take a philosophy course at Georgia Tech—and ended up in my class. When the semester was over, we had lunch together and soon started dating. One night I was struggling with a ferocious case of the blues, and in a moment of complete candor I admitted that I’d never believed anyone truly loved me. Without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Well, I don’t know if it matters, but I do.”
In that instant I realized how people who come to our rescue are willing to make a big sacrifice. My aunt, for example, didn’t care about a little girl going through her closet and jewelry box. The man I would one day marry put aside the possibility of rejection to assure me of his affection.
It took me years to realize what the sisters meant about Jesus. Yes, we truly have been saved by him from the worst fate of all, which is the loss of our eternal souls. We have been washed clean in the blood of this loving Lamb.
And once we fully grasp the meaning of Jesus’ powerful sacrifice, we can try to show his amazing love to people in our lives who are desperate to be rescued. Maybe they feel lonely and rejected. Maybe they are like a little child wandering through the house in tears. Or standing on the edge of a lonely cliff. Sometimes something as simple as a cup of tea can change the world.
Artwork is by Jef Murray. Readers may contact the Murrays at email@example.com.