Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.
His father was working in the back yard and saw his son run out the back door toward the water. He looked down to what he was working on and when he looked up again toward the lake, to his horror, he saw the two as they got closer and closer to each other. In utter fear, he dropped everything and ran toward the water, yelling to his son as loudly as he could.
Hearing his father’s voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. But it was too late. Just as he reached his father, the alligator reached him.
From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs.
Then began an incredible tug-of-war between the alligator and the father. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father was not going to let his son be taken. Holding his son as tightly as he could he sent up a prayer to God for help and screamed for help. Just then a farmer drove by and heard his neighbor’s desperate cry. Racing from his truck with a gun in hand, he took careful aim and shot the alligator. The father was very happy to have his son back though he was badly hurt and was rushed to the hospital.
Remarkably, after several weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were badly scarred by the vicious attack of the alligator. His arms also were marred with deep scratches that were caused by his father’s fingernails that had dug into his flesh in the effort to hang on to the son he loved so much.
The little boy, being interviewed by a newspaper reporter after his traumatic incident, was asked if he would show the scars on his legs. As the boy lifted his pant legs, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my dad would not let me go. My dad loves me.”
That is how much Jesus loves you, and even more than that. In Daniel 3, the Bible records a story of three Hebrew men who would not let go of God. These men, who had been taken captive into Babylon, loved God and had dedicated their lives to Him as boys and refused to bow down to any other god. There were men who knew that the Hebrews were not doing as the king had said when commanded to bow down to the golden image that he had erected on the plain of Dura, so they went to the king and told him. King Nebuchadnezzar was insulted and very angry so he sent for the young men. As they were brought before him the king said, “Is it true, that you do not worship the golden image which I have set up? If you do not bow down, I will cast you into a burning fiery furnace” [verses 14, 15]. With respect, the three Hebrew men told the King that even if he threw them into the furnace they would not bow down to his golden statue, because they had decided to worship only the true God.
The king was furious! He told the guards to heat up the furnace seven times hotter than usual. Then he commanded the mightiest men in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the fiery furnace. The guards did as they were told, but the fire was so hot that the guards were killed as they got close to the furnace. Then the most unusual thing happened! As the King looked into the furnace he was amazed at what he saw! There was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking in the midst of the fiery furnace, unhurt! Not only did the King see the three Hebrew men, but also there was a fourth person walking around with them who he claimed looked like the Son of God! The only thing that had been burned were the ropes that had them bound. Wow! What a sight that must have been!
Just like that father who would not let his boy go to the alligator, God loved those three men so much that He did not let them get hurt by the fire.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13.