Out of the Jaws of Death

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The desperate position of the sinner—with a life of sin behind him and the judgment of God ahead—is well illustrated in the following true story of a sailor who was stationed off the coast of Africa.
In the scorching heat of mid-afternoon, his ship lay anchored on the back of a river infested with crocodiles. Half drunk, and unconscious of danger, he threw himself into the river for a cooling swim and struck out for the opposite bank, while his comrades looked on.
Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a crocodile appeared above the surface of the water. Warning shouts from the other sailors alerted the swimmer to his danger and a race for life began. Shots were fired from the ship at the crocodile, but to no avail. Nothing would frighten the great reptile away from its prey. The imminence of death, in one of its cruelest forms, completely cleared the sailor's senses as he strove to reach the land.
But just as he thought he had gained the safety of the bank, another equally horrific enemy appeared just ahead. A ferocious tiger had been lurking in the reeds and was awaiting his arrival. While the great beast crouched ready to spring, the crocodile closed in with his terrible jaws open for the kill.
The swimmer's case was utterly hopeless. But suddenly, in a flash, God came into the doomed man's mind. The sins of a lifetime rose before him like a great mountain. His mother's prayers, his father's teaching, his Sunday school teacher's pressing appeals which he had despised—indeed his whole life—seemed to pass before him in one marvelous moment of time. Then, with what seemed to be his last breath, he screamed in indescribable terror:
“O God! have mercy on me, a poor miserable sinner.”
Immediately, in a most remarkable way, his prayer was answered. By a miraculous move he dodged the flying tiger, which landed instead into the very path of the oncoming crocodile. A furious death struggle between tiger and crocodile ensued. The water foamed red with the blood of the tiger, whose claws and teeth were no match for the crocodile's iron-like armor. Slowly the mighty reptile drew its snarling, struggling adversary beneath the water. Together they disappeared into the depths of the river.
His friends, who had watched the terrible drama from the ship, were amazed to see their comrade emerge from the very jaws of death, and stand unscathed on the riverside. A rowboat soon brought him back to the ship.
The moment he reached the deck he fell on his knees and thanked God aloud for His marvelous deliverance.
From then on the Bible, that for years lay unopened at the bottom of his kit, became his constant companion. He confessed to God his sins and the lost state in which he had lived for so long.
He saw that Jesus Christ who had borne all his sins upon the cross asked nothing more of him than to believe. He saw that his divine Substitute had satisfied all the claims of God's holiness. He was saved and "filled with all joy and peace in believing" (Rom. 15:1313Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:13)).
Furthermore, he saw that his privilege and joy from then on was to live for the One who delivered him from so great a death. Now, with nothing before him but glory, he could rejoice in the truth that there "is now no more condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:11There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1).