It's a fantastic and amazing story. 64-year-old Diana Nyad, a New York native, swam 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage in less than 54 hours, arriving an hour ago to throngs and media and no doubt, a massive sense of relief and joy.
She tried unsuccessfully four other times in 2011 and 2012, but finally landed Monday just before 2 pm on US Labor Day.
Nyad said on arrival, "I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you're never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team," she said on the beach.
This week is a culmination of sorts for others as Jewish people meet again for New Year services in synagogues worldwide. Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday evening which introduces a 10-day period of introspection and seeking forgiveness from the Almighty. It's also an attempt to cross a chasm, to reach the other side of a great divide. According to the Scriptures, God and man are separated by sin (Isaiah 59.1-2) and according to the Jewish religion, man crosses that chasm by repentance, prayer and good deeds during the next ten days. If God accepts our activities of faith, then the chasm is crossed and Jewish people have another year of life.
That's not exactly how it works, if I read the same Scriptures and also read the Newer Testament. Yeshua, the Messiah, taught about chasm crossing in a famous story of Eliezer (Lazarus) and a rich man. The rich man was not even named. This is recorded in the story by Luke chapter 16. (Full story below)
Eliezer is a poor man, rejected by society, with health issues abundant, and he dies. Contrasted to that is a rich man, who dresses and eats well. The rich man also dies and the eternal state of them both is shown. Eliezer goes to Abraham's bosom, a vision of heavenly comfort, while the rich man goes to Hades, a place of torment. The rich man begs Abraham to assist him, to make the conditions better, by sending Eliezer cool him off. Abraham says that the rich man had plenty of comfort in his life and the poor Eliezer did not. The rich man then wants Abraham to send Eliezer to the rich man's family, as if Eliezer is still a servant class below him, and invites Abraham to follow his plans. Abraham insists that the great gulf (the chasm) is fixed and cannot be crossed. Ever. And that the family, whom the rich man wants to hear a warning from someone on the other side, has plenty of biblical evidence in the readings of (the five books of) Moses and the prophets.
The Bible then is the witness that Abraham calls into the courtroom of the story to bring evidence of the truths listed. The truth of Hades and eternal judgment is there in the Older Testament. The truth about Hell's torment is there in the Older Testament. The truth about God's comfort is there in the Bible. And so much more.
But this story sounds exactly opposite the swimming achievement of Diana Nyad and the Gulf of Mexico. Or is it?
Actually the story evidences the reality of the crossing of the chasm by Eliezer (Lazarus). He who was without any comfort in this life, who had oppression and dismissal on his menu of social interaction found a way over to the other side. The rest of the Bible gives us the back story. How did he do it? How did he cross the chasm?
Moments before according to Luke, Yeshua told this story, "What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."(Luke 15.3-7)
He follows that story with one about a lost coin and similar joy. Then he finishes the triad of stories with the famous Prodigal Son story, about a wayward son who lives lavishly and wrongly, and comes to his senses. Then the son returns to the father who runs to greet him and forgive him. Those stories introduce the story of Eliezer and the rich man so that we see how Eliezer got to cross the chasm. How? By three things.
1) He admitted he was a sinner
2) He came to Yeshua as the only savior
3) He received the welcome by Yeshua characterized by forgiveness of sins.
That story is told over and over in the Bible and it's a story for you. And for Diana Nyad. And for anyone in Cuba or Florida, for Jewish people or Gentiles, for men or women, for sinner or saint. It's a story for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, or anytime.
The great chasm is fixed. I'm trying to help you cross it. How can you get to God?
1) Admit you are a sinner, and need His forgiveness
2) Believe Jesus, Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, died for your sins and made atonement with God on your behalf
3) Confess Him as your Lord and Savior.
The Bible says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10.9)
Come on over to new life.
The Nyad story is here: Nyad Success
The story of Lazarus is here:
Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
And he said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
But the rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’
But Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16.19-31)
Separation is clear from this passage: "Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear."(Isaiah 59.1-2)