Parable of the Survival Knife

David Osteen

Two men were involved in a plane crash early in the morning in a remote wilderness.  The small plane went down in a river, and broke apart, and the two men became separated from each other in the crash.  The only thing that each man was able to grab before the crash was a survival knife from the pilot’s tool box.  So both men were separated, stranded, alone, in the dark cold wilderness with nothing but the clothes on their back and a survival knife.

The first man unscrewed the top off the knife and found a needle and thread.  His leg had a large gash in it from the crash.  He knew he needed to stitch it up to stop the bleeding and prevent infection.  His next priority was to pull out a flint stone from the survival knife and start a fire.  After that, he pulled out a string saw from the hollow tool compartment of the survival knife and used it to first cut up some firewood.  Next he used it to cut off some large branches – some for the fire and some to make a shelter high off the ground.  Time was running out for the day, but he pulled out the fishing hook from the survival knife, dug up some worms, and went fishing in the river.  Low and behold, he caught some dinner.  Since the weather was foggy and overcast all the time, the compass on the knob of the survival knife proved useful in guiding the man to the nearest town; which was west of the river.  He continued to use these tools on his 10 day march to the nearest town. When the old sheriff in town was interviewing the man, he was impressed with how the young man was in good shape. “What all did you use to survive out there in the wilderness son?” The young man replied with a smile, “Everything I needed was in this handy survival knife.”

After getting information from that survivor, rescuers had a better idea of where to look for the other man in the plane crash.  A few days passed before they found the man.  He had been dead for some time.  They looked around, and they found no shelter, no fire, and no evidence of food.  He had sustained injuries that were never treated, and to make matters worse, he had actually been walking further away from civilization instead of towards it.  He had the same style survival knife as the survivor.  The rescuers picked up the knife, they unscrewed the top, and they found all the same tools the other man had.  The man’s body was in bad shape, but all they found with him was the knife, and a note.  The man had cut his finger to use his own blood to write this note to whoever might find him. “I was in a plane crash.  I think there is one other survivor.  I don’t think either of us will make it.  All I have is this lousy knife.  Tell my family I love them.” 


Like these two men, we are on a perilous journey.  The teaching of the gospel makes it clear, that we need to persevere in this journey to receive our crown of life (Revelation 2:10); that the road is a narrow road (Matthew 7:14), that the road is a dark and treacherous road (Ephesians 6:12), and that it is filled with spiritual adversaries that are seeking to hunt us down and destroy us. (I Peter 5:8)  How do we survive?

God has provided us a great tool that we can use for spiritual survival on our journey, and that is His church.  One problem, is that too many times people view church as just a place they go, or group they are a part of, where the sole purpose is just to praise God.  Where God is the only one receiving any benefit.  But this is just not the case.  The church is just as much for us, as it is for God, and that is part of God’s wisdom.  When we worship Him, if we are doing it right, we also derive benefit.

When we show up to worship services, we are not just going… we are growing. (Ephesians 4:16) When we pray, we are not just praying to God, but petitioning God to help us. (I Timothy 2:1)  When we sing, we are not just offering the fruit of our lips in adoration to the Lord, we are also teaching and admonishing, strengthening and encouraging, one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19)  When we give, we are not just giving a free will offering in honor to God, we are also contributing to support works that will help us in our own spiritual growth. (I Corinthians 9:7-11)  When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are not just honoring the death of Jesus Christ, we are supporting one another in our faith of proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes. (I Corinthians 11:26) God didn’t create the church just for Him, He created it for you as well. (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25)  But if you are not at church, or participating in church, then church will be useless to you… just like the survival knife was useless to the man who perished in the wilderness.

Here at O’Connor Road, there are many more spiritual tools in the church to help us on our journey to heaven.  We are blessed to have a church full of caring and loving saints that are genuinely concerned about the spiritual welfare of one another, and can help you get to heaven if you will let them.  But that is the key.  You have to open your heart to be helped, and when you do that, this church always stands ready to be there for you. We have a full time evangelist that is ready and willing to help you on your spiritual journey to heaven.  We have other resources, like ladies who get together to provide encouragement to one another, we work to get the youth together for activities, and we have other classes and resources throughout the year as well.  We have religious tracts, we have spiritual magazines, decades worth of recorded sermons, a library full of study materials, and the list could go on and on….

If you are not using these resources; then why not?  Why do you allow yourself to continue to spiritually struggle when so much help is available to you?  Do you think the spiritual journey for others looks so easy?  Do you know why it looks that way?  It’s not because they are just inherently better, or more talented, or gifted than you spiritually; it’s because they are using ALL the tools in the spiritual survival knife that is the Lord’s church.  One person will get to heaven with much more apparent ease and they will say, “I had the O’Connor Road church of Christ to help me in my walk of faith”.  The other will stand in judgment being condemned thinking, “All I had was that lousy O’Connor Road church of Christ”.  What’s the difference?  The difference is you.  It’s how you view the church.  It’s how you use the church.  Do you want to survive in this wilderness of darkness and sin?  Then use this church.  Use this church… use all of its tools, use all of its resources, and let’s make it to heaven… together!