Tuesday, November 13, 2007

No Way Out - No Exit

Last week the Pittsburgh Tribune Review carried a startling story on the front page. It was about a deer that jumped a fence to get into the Pittsburgh Zoo. After wandering around for awhile apparently, the deer jumped another fence into the polar bear pool. The entire saga was caught on video by surveillance cameras.

Deer are everywhere in western Pennsylvania. We live above a very busy US highway surrounded by residential areas and regularly deer stroll through our yard in groups. Deer eat my flowers. They love tulips in the spring. They eat the shrubs and trees in winter and spring - right in my yard mere feet from our house. In fact, if I encounter deer in the yard up close, they stand and look at me as if I were the intruder.

I have offered a number of bow hunters access to the balcony off our living room for their own personal deluxe hunting "stand" in a gesture of "humanitarian" protection for my plants, bushes and trees. So far there are no takers.

Back to the zoo story: After jumping over 20 feet into the polar bear pool, the deer swam several laps with the bears close behind. Then the deer climbed out followed by two huge furry bears. According to news reports the bears never touched the deer. The deer injured itself jumping the fences sustaining significant injury so had to be euthanized by zoo personnel. The bears did no harm and were unharmed apparently. Soon they were swimming in their pool again with no interference from an "alien" creature.

Another deer story: recently I was driving along a Pittsburgh street with cars in front of me and cars coming toward me. All of a sudden - somehow dodging the cars - a deer streaked straight across the road running at full tilt, up the bank beside the road and on to parts unknown. This time no harm was done except for raising at least one driver's cardio-vascular rhythm. But that is not usually the case. Deer are routinely killed and injured on the streets and highways of western Pennsylvania. Cars, passengers and drivers also sustain damage in these encounters.

Deer don't belong in closely populated residential areas. Deer are in grave danger crossing busy highways. Deer don't belong on streets and highways. Deer are the "alien" intruder.

Then I mused on environments where I am also an "alien" intruder - places I don't belong and shouldn't go and where there is great danger to life and limb. In my life I have found myself in various such dangerous situations. (We all have.) Sometimes (like the deer at the zoo) I have been totally oblivious and unaware. Sometimes I have known I needed to get out but not known how. Sometimes I am in the situation in the first place because I chose to jump in. In every case the end result is that I need an "exit strategy."

Actually that's why Jesus came to earth in the first place. He is God's provision for that way out of every harmful, dangerous circumstance in life. Jesus knows we are trapped in a life of sin and doomed to eternal death with no way out, no exit. He is the only Exit! John 1:14 says, "He became flesh and dwelt among us ... " He put on our skin and moved into our neighborhood (our world). It was a trade down for Him to provide a trade up for me (and you) !

My unrestored heart gets me in lots of predicaments. As my heart continues to be restored by God's grace (provided in the trade Jesus made: "He Who knew no sin became sin for us." 2 Corinthians 5:21), I may still get into predicaments. The good news is that there is an Exit and His name is Jesus!

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