This Is How God Saves


Compassion For Others Is Woven Into Our DNA

by Eric Elkin

Oh, blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us. He didn’t abandon us defenseless, helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
— Psalm 124: 6

I had never heard of a Pigeon Shoot until we moved to Pennsylvania. But once there, it became a central part of my life. It’s funny how some things in a small community can be so important, so central to their identity and, yet, hold absolutely no meaning to the outside world. That is until some in the outside world learn of it. So it was with the Fred Coleman Memorial Pigeon Shoot in Hegins, Pennsylvania.

This Labor Day pigeon shoot was a fading tradition with declining interest. A decision was made to hold it one last time before putting it to rest. It was then that the outside world learned of the “horror” of the shoot. A call to action was sent out, and animal rights groups from outside communities descended upon the town to protest this abomination.

At one shoot, a group of protestors showed up early in the morning. They brought 55-gallon drums filled with cement. In the center of the hardened cement, they placed steel tubes. Setting the drums on the main road into town, a couple of protestors laid down on their backs, slid their hands into the tubes and handcuffed themselves to each other. They created a human roadblock.

We speak our words of praise in a world that is hellish; we sing our songs of victory in a world where things get messy; we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us. But the content of our lives is God, not humanity.
— Eugene Peterson

No one foresaw the trouble this would cause. As the sun rose, so did the temperature. The protestors were laying on the blacktop road unprotected from the sun. Temperatures reached up into the high 90’s. Once the road heated up, not even shade could cool it down. They were essentially baking on the pavement. The protestors were trapped and could not escape, left to the mercy of their opponents.

The people who came to their rescue were the same people who wanted to hurt these outside invaders. Now, they were left to save them. It never ceases to amaze me how deep our caring for each other is woven into our DNA. So it was on the road in Hegins that two opposing groups worked to save four unfortunate souls trapped by their own stupidity.

The rescue required great skill. The emergency responders needed to cut through cement and steel without cutting a hand or arm. Then push the drums apart far enough to cut the handcuffs. It took several hours, but eventually, everyone was free. Free to return to their opposing views, their anger, and fight.

I often wonder if any of those people saved that day gave thanks to God. Did they sing the song of Psalm 124, “Oh, blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us.” One could easily argue no spiritual being descended to earth and magically unleashed these young people. However, I will always believe the compassion we have, even for enemies, is the power of God working in us. And this is how God saves those who are trapped.

Click to read Psalm 124

Reflection Questions:

  • When have you been trapped and had your life or safety threatened?

  • How did you get out of this trouble?

  • How has it shaped your life moving forward?

  • Where do you see God at work trying to protect you?

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