I know a man who’s handled hot guns, and hot ammo, and has withstood the burns that such weapons can create. And I’ve been thinking of him off and on for the past several days.
I was doing a little arts and crafts project, and stuck a ten-inch glue stick into my hot glue gun, waiting for it to heat up. In order to put a ‘little of this’ next to a ‘bit of that’, I pulled the trigger and a big glob of glue slid onto the end of my finger. Just the end. It was extremely hot, though not as hot as a fiery furnace, not as hot as the tip of a bullet, not as hot as the searing fire of an explosion. I grabbed my finger, wiped it against a rag, and put my hand under cold running water. That was five days ago. Today the tip of my finger is still numb.
Layers of skin that seared away are just starting to grow back. I can see the top layer, my epidermis, trying to stretch toward the other side of the gaping hole where the blister went deepest into my fingertip.
And I think about the man I know. The one who was blown up. The one with partial and full thickness burns over 30% of his body and I think about courage. What kind of courage must a man possess to handle the burn, the damage assessment, the healing road? What kind of courage must a man possess to accept the damage, and furthermore embrace the Healer?
I put myself in harm’s way when I picked up that glue gun. I knew that getting burned was a possibility. But I was willing to take the risk.
What kind of courage does it require to put yourself in harm’s way, when the risk is an IED, an RPG, a blast of uranium? Who can agree to such a possibility, and for many, such a probability?
Our Bible study is working through the book of Daniel right now, and I was reading of a different time and place, a different kingdom. A king commanded that three of God’s men be bound and thrown into a furnace, demanding a fire so hot that the soldiers tossing the men into the flames were killed instantly. Just getting close to the flames brought death. The three men fell down into the fiery furnace, but suddenly, onlookers noticed that there were four men in the flames. Four men, unbound, walking around in the fire, unscathed, unhurt. And the fourth ‘looked like a god.’
It was not just any god. It was ours. Yours and mine. And for my friend, I believe he had a companion, a protector, as well. The fire touched him—there was no doubt; it burned off skin, fingers, ears, nose, lips, hair…he was burned down to the bone in a fire that left him comatose for months…but in that furnace with him there was a Savior who spared him, who took over the rescue operation, and did not leave his side for a moment.
We’re never promised that we won’t go through fire. But we are promised we won’t be destroyed by it.
My finger’s going to heal in a couple more days. Representing probably less than .00001 of the burn area of my soldier friend; this minor scrape is nothing. Underscore nothing. My friend’s healing will continue for a lifetime. But the God who saved him, the God who is able, fully able, to handle the healing journey, was with him in the blast and will be with him for always.
You’ll meet my friend pretty soon. You’ll find out what he found out…where Jesus is when your body’s destroyed by fire. His story is nearly complete. I can’t wait to share it with you.