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Diving into the Tar Pits
What the LeBrea Tar Pits taught me about love.
Chris Lutes
Friday, November 1, 2013

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Diving into the Tar Pits

I gazed at them through a wire fence—three ancient mammoths frozen in time, statues of what no doubt took place multiple times in the prehistoric past. The mother mammoth has her trunk lifted high as if trumpeting a desperate futile cry for help, while her baby and the father watch helplessly from the shore.

My wife, Jan, my son's fiancée, Christine, and I were walking about the grounds of the famous and infamous La Brea Tar Pits—what remains of the fateful death trap for many prehistoric beasts. While Jan and Christine wandered elsewhere, I stood breathing in the oily fumes and reflecting on the horrific and gooey fate of this mother mammoth.

The immediate spiritual lesson in all this was fairly obvious to me. Sin can suck you under like so many mammoths in a pit of tar. But there were a couple of other spiritual lessons that spun off, of all things, a cold case crime. About a month before my wife and I flew to LA to visit my son and his fiancée, David Mascarenas, a diver with the Los Angeles Police Department, entered the tar pits in search of a weapon related to a 2011 murder.

Dressed in a heavy-duty HAZMAT dry suit, the 16-year veteran diver with the LAPD spent about three hours in the toxic stew and helped retrieve items related to the crime. After the dive, Mascarenas told a reporter, "I've been under moving ships, in underwater reservoir sheds ... you name it. This is by far the craziest thing I've ever done."

Now, imagine this: God took his own crazy and deadly dive into the muck of humanity to rescue us from our sin and bring us life everlasting.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son (Rom. 5:8–9).

That's not all. There is another spiritual lesson here. As God's light in this dark sin-filled world, we're called to be fellow divers—joining in his rescue mission of lost humanity. Let your light shine in the darkness, Jesus tells us. Be salt, he says, in a world that has lost its godly flavoring.

Of course, as we join this rescue dive, we must not be like those mammoths of long ago—unaware and unprepared for the fatal trap awaiting them. We must be like seasoned diver Dave Mascarenas. We must put on our HAZMAT diving suits, as it were:

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Bob Moore

November 12, 2013  5:43am

I am not sure that we can learn spiritual lessons from mammoths preserved in tar pits. We can find analogies to use in sermons, but are these really spiritual lessons? To me, this language trivializes two things: 1. the historical and scientific lessons that should be learned when one is studying mammoths in tar pits; and 2. the extreme complexity of what it takes to truly learn a spiritual lesson, i.e. the extent of my sinfulness and the extent of His grace and righteousness

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JIM RUNYON

November 05, 2013  1:42pm

"Taking Spirit-directed risks. Praying fervently for God to work in and through us. It's our job. It's our calling. Let's take the dive" Well spoken. Keep up the good work

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