A TV crew for Animal Planet's show River Monster was out on the sea filming last November. Suddenly, they came across a man on a largely deserted Australian island. The team was trying to solve the mystery of a plane that had crashed killing all six aboard near the Gulf of Carpenaria. It is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia.
The director of the Inside Edition program stated that, while doing their research, a semi-naked man came running from a cave waving his arms in the air. Apparently he had been out fishing when he decided to leave his boat to go find better oysters. But when he tried to walk back on the hot beach he was overwhelmed by the sun, suffered from sunstroke and was unable to go any further.
No one knew Tremine, a roofer from Borroloola, Australia was even missing. He had been stranded without supplies for almost 3 days. After his unlikely rescue, he revealed that he had said his last prayer and was “prepared to die”. And had the TV crew not showed up when they did, he would have likely perished there all alone.
It is hard to imagine how it would feel to be in this particular man’s boat. No pun intended. Of course there was the physical discomfort and his emotional pain of second guessing why he put himself in the position to die helpless and alone. This man was literally facing the real life circumstances portrayed in a so-called reality show on the Discovery Channel called ‘Naked and Afraid’. This program finds two strangers dropped off in a hostile wilderness environment with literally nothing. They must then use their wits to survive for 21 days. The difference here is that the show does have emergency medical and rescue crews in the area if anything goes really wrong. And for the record, I don’t recommend the program because of the inappropriate and graphic content as the title reveals.
But it was encouraging to hear Tremine state that he had prayed and was therefore ready to face death. To some that may sound simplistic and just wishful thinking. And that may, or may, not be the case depending on what that prayer is and to whom it is addressed!
In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus shared a story of two men. Both prayed and the details of their words are recorded as is the result. Verse 10 begins, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
In this account, the Pharisee prayed to emphasize his own supposed righteousness before God and thus why he deserved to be justified based on his own good works or lack of sin. But the man who was seen as a sinner most in that day admitted his own sinfulness and that it was God’s grace alone that could forgive him and make him spiritually right. Both prayed. Both prayed to the same God even. But only one prayer resulted in true Biblical justification. These few verses epitomize what so much of the world does not grasp as far as what legitimate salvation is all about.
If there is one verse that sums this all up better than any other, it is Ephesians 2:8-9. It is the passage that led my own mother to Jesus Christ many years ago. The Apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Redemption is about faith and grace - period!
I sincerely hope that this rescued roofer from Australia, not only prayed to God in those desperate hours, but that he prayed the right prayer to the right God as did that desperate tax collector back in Jesus’ day. And those who do the same today, no matter what terrible circumstances may befall them, need never be afraid of facing anything alone including standing before their Creator some day. They are never truly alone now and then!
"For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you ." So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)