Last July I wrote a post referencing a man who regularly slept on the front porch of our church. I hadn’t seen my friend in many months until today when he visited my office with a heavily bandaged face and right hand.
My friend had been living and working on another island in The Bahamas when he had an accident. When lighting a fire to cook dinner, he inadvertently caused an explosion that launched him off the ground and temporarily took away his eyesight. As he recounted the story to me, the extensive burn marks on his face verified what he was saying.
At first, you could only feel sorry for the man because of what he had endured. But soon it became apparent that this fire had, in a manner, saved my friend’s life.
“I was blind, but now I see!”, he declared when entering my office. At first, I thought he was talking about his physical eyesight, but upon further reflection I think he was talking about his spiritual eyesight.
My friend was overwhelmed with emotion as he described his new perspective to me:
“I’ve been given a second chance!”
“I’m Jonah–I was swallowed, but I’ve been spit back up!”
“I’m Job–’Though He slay me, I will hope in Him’” (Job 13:15).
My friend shared how he was now reading his Bible every day and as I read some passages to encourage him, he insisted that I write down the references for him to look up later. He also thanked me for all that I had done for him, stood up and, with tears streaming down his face, gave me a hug.
I don’t know that I did all that much for him—some meals, some clean clothes, some encouragement, but sometimes we would go for weeks without any meaningful exchange.
At the end of the day, nothing I did brought about the transformation that I was witnessing. God did this.
One of the metaphors for salvation used in the Bible is that of the refiner’s fire. Many congregations even sing a hymn by that title. Amazingly, in this instance, the Lord chose literal fire to transform and refine a man that He refused to let go.
I am overjoyed that the word of the Lord, spoken through Zechariah, now applies to a man who once slept on our porch.
I will put them into the fire;
I will refine them like silver
and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”