Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Brenda Black
I set the yard on fire one time. I had an accomplice. Of course we didn't intend to torch the lawn. My newlywed husband and I were merely burning trash. But the wind began to blow and scattered burning rubbish a half dozen different directions before we could say “Hot!” With frightening speed, glowing fragments of refuse turned to tall, licking flames that merged together to form a fast-moving, fiery line racing for the pasture. I know what tongues of fire look like. I've felt the heat and cowered from their power.
Acts 2:1-13 speaks of the Holy Spirit coming to the apostles with fiery symbolism. How appropriate when I remember back to that close encounter. The fire, the speed, the overwhelming feeling are quite suitable to this Pentacost occasion.
“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: 'Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!' Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, 'What does this mean?'
“Some, however, made fun of them and said, 'They have had too much wine.'” (Acts 2:1-13)
Isn't it odd how one group can be amazed by the flames and another pack of people foolishly amused? It may seem odd, but unfortunately it is more the rule than the exception for mankind to scoff at God things than to stand in wonder at His amazing feats. To be awed is humbling. To debunk something beyond human explanation is egotistical.
We see it all the time. God heals and modern medicine is credited. God restores a relationship and enemies-turned-lovers say it was destiny. God instills animals with fascinating instincts and science explains away the mystery with godless probabilities.
“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
As I watched one Chilean miner after another be lifted to safety from the depths of the planet, I had to wonder, just who will get the glory for such a salvation as this. Will the incredibly brave men who kept their wits and bore the heat from near the heart of the earth be regaled with honors? They have already been invited to presidential palaces, offered all-expenses-paid vacations and are being wooed by countless TV shows, book and movie deals. Certainly they deserve reward. Will the families who never gave up hope be acknowledged for perseverance and commitment? They kept vigil and paid a high psychological and emotional price. Will the technicians and mechanics, psychologists and physicians, captains, managers, and mining specialists be praised for their diligent and historic rescue? As Ryan Saylor, one of the designers behind Center Rock, Inc's specialized drill bit told reporters, “Being part of saving 33 miners is overwhelming.”
Behind all of the hype and the glaring lights and drilling equipment that chipped away for 69 days to free these underground heros, were family, friends and neighbors; foreigners and strangers across the globe, praying for their safe return to the surface. Those men were closer to hell than most of us ever dare to envision and one miner possibly best portrayed the real power behind such a blazing salvation.
The ninth man up, Mario Gomez, who at 63 is the oldest miner, dropped to his knees after he emerged, and bowed his head in prayer. And no one made fun of such lavish, humble faith or God's mighty hand in that moment. God's Spirit still moves today. Only a fool would deny the flame.