When Carolyn Kelly heard a car splash into a pond at the Glen Retirement Village in Shreveport, La., she didn’t stop to think. Stripping off her clothes and jumping into the pond, Kelly swam to the rescue of 83-year-old Nina Hutchinson while Hutchinson’s husband, Harlem, 90, dog-paddled to shore.
The Carnegie Hero Fund, a program recognizing human courage under extreme conditions, honored Kelly for her rescue efforts.
Kelly, 82, is the oldest woman to have been honored in the program’s 99-year history.
While Shreveport officials called Kelly’s actions “absolutely incredible,” Kelley maintains that she simply did what needed to be done. “When you are there and that is happening, you either have to do it or live with your conscience forever,” Kelly said. “We were the only people there, and it had to be so.”
Unlike Kelly’s selfless and saving attitude, Jonah overflowed with anger and bitterness when it was time for him to jump in and bail out souls drowning in sin. After reluctantly diving into Nineveh to warn the residents of God’s wrath, Jonah was upset over God’s choice to save the repentant townspeople. God tried to teach Jonah a lesson, but Jonah couldn’t see the irony in his own actions—he was filled with pity over the death of a plant while commanding God to destroy the people Jonah had threatened and God had created and forgiven. Jonah was bitter that God would renege on the promise to give the Ninevites what they deserved rather than rejoicing over the lives that had been saved.
What Jonah failed to understand is that God is in the business of giving people what they don’t deserve—forgiveness, salvation, joy and life.
God continuously and unabashedly grants unworthy humans grace, love and mercy. In John 3:16, one of the best-known Bible verses, we see God’s willingness to send His own Son to jump in after a drowning world as proof of our Creator’s everlasting mercy and goodness.
God enjoys lavishing forgiveness on sinners. In fact, 1 John 1:4 reminds us that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to clean us up from all unrighteousness.”
As Christians, saved by grace and entrusted with the responsibility of sharing the love of Christ, we are uniquely able to focus on God’s gift of forgiveness and enduring compassion as we seek to fully understand our Maker’s ultimate plan for our lives.