Sermon Illustration #2— FAITH: Buried in an Avalanche

June 15, 2013

I was washing the dishes, listening to our local news radio station, when the news anchor started a phone conversation with Jeff Eckland, a skier who was caught in an avalanche at Kirkwood near Lake Tahoe. The news report had come over the wire services:

Skier is buried in snow 17 minutes
but survives

 KIRKWOOD – A Kirkwood ski area employee survived a brush with death when he was caught up in a snow slide and buried for about 17 minutes, the Alpine County Sheriff’s office said.
Jeff Eckland, 24, of South Lake Tahoe was skiing the resort’s back side Monday when he was swept some 200 feet down the hill and left under 5 feet of snow near some trees.
“We had 45 people on the scene within seven to 10 minutes.  We mobilized our staff very quickly,” Kirkwood Marketing Director Greg Murtha said.
Eckland was skiing with companions in an ungroomed area they hiked to because it is above the runs served by lifts, Murtha said.
Eckland was treated at Barton Memorial Hospital for mild hypothermia and a possible bruised liver, the sheriff’s report said. [Later he was discovered to have suffered a broken back and ribs—MHN.]

146In the KCBS interview, Jeff answered questions from his hospital bed:

 Q: How long can a person survive under the snow?
A: About twenty minutes, breathing calmly and drawing oxygen from the surrounding air-fluffed snow. But then you begin to hyperventilate and the condensation freezes around you, forming an impenetrable shell of ice.

Q: What’s it like—can you move around?
A: No, not at all; you don’t even know if you’re right side up.

 Q: What were you thinking while you waited for help to come?
A:  I was remembering the facts I knew:
• Kirkwood has the greatest snow rescue squad in the state.
• My friend saw me go down and could get help.
• Rescue could be mobilized within three minutes.
• I was helpless to anything for myself, but was in good hands.

rescue dogQ: Could you hear anything, or have any indication that help was on its way?
A: Not a thing. The first indication that help was near was when the rescue dog’s paw hit my head digging in the snow. I didn’t even hear him digging in to reach me.

FAITH is the sum total of knowledge, assent, and trust. Jeff Eckland demonstrated all three, beginning with the knowledge of Kirkwood’s rescue squad, staying calm, and trusting others in his helpless state! Our faith in Jesus Christ begins with a basic knowledge of him, an acknowledgment that he is who he says he is, and trust in him alone for our salvation.


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