The rugged terrain of Eastern Oregon isn’t for the fainthearted, feeble or weak. It is known for its steep mountains and deep ravines. But on August 24, 2007 Harold and Doris Anderson headed to the Wallowa Mountains to do some bow hunting.
Hunting trips don’t always go smoothly. Their Chevy Tahoe got stuck in the rough trails. Mr. Anderson snapped his wrist when unloading their all terrain vehicle from the utility trailer they were hauling. 74 year old Harold and his wife began their trek looking for help. They were hoping to walk to a U.S. Forest Service road but they had become exhausted. 76 year old Doris headed back towards the truck. A disoriented Mr. Anderson was found by a hunting party later but there were no signs of his wife.
She was lost and the search began.
Seventy volunteers a day combed through the mountainous and deeply wooded area. There were no signs of Doris who was lightly dressed. The nights were getting colder with temperatures dipping down towards the freezing point in the mountains just south of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. The chances of finding the lost 76 year old woman were growing slim. After more than a week, the search was scaled back.
On August 31, it was officially called off. Volunteer rescue teams dwindled even though some continued the search. Mr. Anderson had given up hope. He thought she had died and in his words he figured he would not see her again until the rapture. The family planned a memorial service for Mrs. Anderson.
The area had been searched already; but 13 days Doris disappeared two people thought they should search it again more thoroughly. Baker County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Ash and Oregon State Police Trooper Chris Hawkins on their day off work, went down a steep, brushy canyon looking for Doris Anderson.
Deep in the ravine, they could hear the sound of ravens. Listen again. It was the very faint voice of a woman talking to herself. Lying helplessly beside a creek in heavy brush, was Doris Anderson. She was dehydrated and cold; her hip was fractured and her voice was weak.
She looked up into the eyes of the off-duty officers and said: “Oh, my God, I’m glad to see you!”
She was airlifted to a nearby hospital for care and convalescence. The memorial service was called off and her husband vowed to end his elk-hunting days and to spend the rest of his days at home with his wife.
Lost – she couldn’t find her way and others couldn’t find her.
Helpless – lying at the bottom of a ravine by a creek, unable to do anything for herself.
Hopeless – even her family had given up hope.
Rescued – volunteers descended to the ravine, found her, picked her up and brought her to safety.
Perhaps you have never been physically lost in a wilderness but you know what it is to be lost spiritually in the wilderness of sin and darkness. Jesus compared sinners to sheep that had strayed and were lost. By nature we have strayed from God. (Isaiah 53:6) We have taken our own way and the reality is – we are lost in our sins.
The Bible says we are helplessly lost with no strength of our own and no ability to save ourselves. When it comes to rescuing ourselves, we are as good as dead. Ephesians 2:1 says we are dead in our sins. Romans 5:6 paints the vivid of picture of a sinner in a state of absolute weakness – without strength.
He didn’t have to – but He did. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1Timothy 1:15) Jesus said He came to “seek and to save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:10).
Jesus compared Himself to a good shepherd who searched for the one lost sheep until it was found.
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ (Luke 15:4-6)
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
The Lord Jesus Christ went through the pain and shame of the Cross, the physical and spiritual suffering for sin, He laid down his life voluntarily so lost sinners could be rescued.
Acknowledge your own lost spiritual condition. Take the place of one who is totally lost, helpless and without any strength to be saved. God can hear the faintest and feeblest cry from a despondent human heart. Open up your eyes. He is there. Don’t push Him away, He is at your side to save you.
What does this verse mean to you? “When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6
CNN.com, September 07, 2007
Associated Press and KGW.com, September 07, 2007