One morning in September 2008 Thomas Vander Woude, a retired airline pilot who now kept a farm in Northern Virginia, was working his 26 acres with his 20 year old handicapped son Joseph by his side. When they had separated to do other chores, Joseph walked on a damaged septic tank cover and broke through, falling into the almost full 8 foot deep tank. Seeing the accident from a distance, Vander Woude rushed over to assist his youngest son. Unable to pull him from the tank, he lowered himself into the sewage and treaded beside him to help keep Josephs’ head above the waste, but he was still sinking. Vander Woude then made the decision to dive under the sewage and raise his Down syndrome afflicted son up on his shoulders to free him from drowning. When rescuers finally arrived they pulled Joseph out, injured but alive. His father Thomas though was dead, suffocated under the waste.
This is an amazing fatherly sacrifice, but Christians know of one that is even more heart wrenching; God the father offering His Son freely TO die so that he may taste death for all who have sinned and fallen short, so that we may know the most gracious Father and be called His sons and daughters: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7 NIV)