When we were in Whitby this weekend, we visited the Lifeboat Museum. The winds were up and the sea was rough, so it was all too easy to read of the many thousands of lifeboat rescues with an eye that could vividly imagine the pitfalls and perils involved in each rescue.

The RNLI provides a 24/7 search and rescue service every day of the year. The majority of RNLI crews are volunteers. We read about famous rescues in the past, often led by Henry Freeman, in wooden boats that barely looked capable of withstanding the rough seas themselves, let alone rescuing others in danger. We read of one rescue in January where the crew had to drag the boat across deep snow in order to be able to launch at a suitable point. It was awe-inspiring and truly humbling to read of all that these men had accomplished. One such story, the start of Freeman’s career, is told below:

“During a great storm on 9 February 1861, when more than 200 ships were wrecked on the east coast, Whitby’s lifeboat capsized with the loss of all but one of the crew. The men had been attempting to rescue sailors from a stricken collier called Merchant and had put the lifeboat to sea for the sixth time that day.

The only lifeboatman to survive the capsize was Henry Freeman, who was on his first lifeboat launch and is thought to have survived as he was the only man wearing a new design of cork lifejacket. Freeman was awarded an RNLI Silver Medal for his part in the incident and went on to become Whitby’s most renowned lifeboatman, helping to save more than 300 lives during more than 20 years as Whitby RNLI Coxswain.”

And as I stood in the blustery wind surveying the new lifeboat which looked so much more robust than the wooden ones in the museum, I thought of God’s rescue plan, that plan to save mankind, which must have looked pretty rickety to the crowds watching the Crucifixion on that first Good Friday, which did not look at all good. A rescue plan which involved God becoming Man and living a perfect life, submitting to death which had no hold on the Son of Man, so that we, sinful people, could be rescued from certain death. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”