I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Job 19: 20
Years ago I visited San Francisco with my dad and brother. We saw the sights – ate in China Town, rode the trolleys, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, and visited Alcatraz prison.
Alcatraz has always fascinated me, for some reason. Its use as a federal prison, military prison, and Civil War fort sparks the history buff in me, I guess.
When the Clint Eastwood movie Escape from Alcatraz came out, I went to go see it. It was filmed on the island and so I had first-hand experience with the scenes depicted in the movie.
The story is about Frank Morris and two other inmates who attempted to escape from the escape-proof prison.
Their escape happened in 1962 and since they were never seen or heard from again, people believe that they either drowned in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay or they were successful in their escape.
The movie tells the story of how they got out of their cells, the main block house, and to the shore of the island.
You could say that Frank Morris escaped his cell by the skin of his teeth. He was able to crawl through a ventilation hole in his cell that was just a bit larger than he was. He probably left some skin behind squeezing through that hole!
Narrow escapes happen more often than we might expect.
There have been many times, I’m sure, that I narrowly escaped injury as a kid. Falling off a ladder and my garage roof and coming away with just a broken wrist would be just one example of escaping injury “by the skin of my teeth.”
I’m sure there have been many times driving through the streets of Chicago or on the LA freeways that I also escaped crashes and getting hurt “by the skin of my teeth.”
That’s an interesting phrase, “by the skin of my teeth.” As you see from the Bible verse for this devotion, the phrase is from Job chapter 19. It has become an idiom for a narrow escape.
But for Job it may have been literal. His body is so diseased-ridden that his skin has shrunk around his bones. The “skin of my teeth” may be referring to his gums that also suffered from the disease he’s infected with.
By this time, all the bad things that have happened to Job have come to an end. The only thing he has left is his wife and his life. He has been suffering from some kind of disease (we’re never told what, exactly). But the story doesn’t indicate that Job is getting any worse (nor better).
So Job could rightly say that he has “escaped by the skin of my teeth.” He’s escaped death and losing his wife.
And even though Job has cursed the day he was born and he’s indicated that he’s ready to die and might even prefer to die, this phrase “escaped by the skin of my teeth” tells me that there is still something in Job that wants to live and to get better!
It also tells me that Job sees some light at the end of his long, dark, tunnel of despair and pain.
This teaches me to never give up. God allows these bad things to happen in order to teach us that we have the strength to always look to him for all that we need. He will restore Job and he will restore us because of his great love for us.
We need look no further for that love than in the cross of Jesus Christ!
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