Though he had no idea where to find them, Alvin McDonald went back into the cave.
The previous day, three people had become separated from their tour group somewhere in the “Wind Cave.” Searching the cave, located in the south east portion of the Black Hills in South Dakota, was not going to be an easy task. With more than 139 miles of known tunnels (and an average of four more miles being discovered each year), there was no telling where the lost tourists would be found. However, if anyone could find them, Alvin McDonald was the man.
McDonald, born in 1873, began exploring “Wind Cave” when he was 16 years old. Over the next four years, until his death in 1893, he mapped the tunnels and a kept an extensive diary describing what he had found. Alvin explored the cave with nothing but candlelight which afforded him about four feet of sight.
When the candles went out, he could not see anything. In fact, the darkness was so encompassing that he was worried for the sanity of the lost tourists. The lack of sight would only add to their panic, so Alvin went back into the cave.
Eventually, he found one of the tourists. Taking the man’s hand, he continued calling and searching for the other two. Finally, after more than a day in the darkness, the others were found. Alvin lit the remaining candles and, thanks to his light and his knowledge of the cave, led the three to the entrance and safety. (Hold that thought).
Ask 100 people “Why do churches exist?” and you will likely get 150 answers. Some think the church exists so that they can find friendship. Others think the church should be a place of encouragement to help them carry on in their Christian walk. Some want the church to “Put on a good show,” “Keep my children happy,” “Help with my marriage,” “Hand out money and be benevolent” or … the list goes on and on.
Now, those things (and more) are great (in fact, our group does many of them), but they are not the reason we exist!
The church is here for one reason: To make disciples (or followers) of Jesus.
Now that process starts in many different ways (like some of the things listed above), but in the end our only real job is to take God’s light, go into the darkness and help lead others out of the cave of their “lost-ness” (as someone else has done for us).
Jesus said he came, “To seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
What are we doing here?