The men's group was in its first session of a spiritual conference. Everything was moving in the right directions toward personal improvement through spiritual growth. These were men who needed to experience the power of the cross and find healing for their emotions, their spirituality, and their personal behavior. These men were incarcerated, some for serious crimes, some not so serious, but they all shared a common residence behind bars.
In an instant there was some kind of disturbance along one wall of the room. Fire and sparks were shooting from an electrical outlet as the men scrambled to get out of the way. The men who had been so involved in spiritual studies were moved to another section of the facility and a maintenance crew was called. They discovered a problem with a water heater in the attic, and turned it off. Closer examination revealed the water heater needed to be replaced.
The conference studies continued in another room and the problem with the water heater was forgotten. It was later in the day that someone went into the original classroom and discovered it was flooded with water. The maintenance crew had disconnected electrical power to the water heater, but had failed to notice it was leaking water between the walls, which had caused the electrical fire earlier in the day. Just so you will know, the new water heater will be installed soon.
As that story was related to me today, I thought there had to be a message in there somewhere. I thought about Moses and the burning bush. I thought about Noah and the flood. Admittedly, neither the electrical plug fire, nor the water on the floor of that room could be a fit comparison to the burning bush or the great flood.
But both fire and water are important in the Bible. Hebrews 12:29, which is a quote from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, says, "Our God is a consuming fire." Perhaps that verse is easier understood from the People's New Testament, "For our God is a consuming fire. Because, while God is very merciful and loving, he will not overlook willful disobedience, but will destroy those who despise his commandments." It is an encouragement for us to respect and honor God in our lives as well as a warning for those who choose disobedience.
Water's importance in the Bible is mostly remembered with the event of the flood. God used water to destroy the disobedient inhabitants of the earth. That was a lot of water, but the analogy I wish to point you to is an encounter Jesus had with a woman at a well. He promised her water that would relieve her thirst forever. We know that he was referring to himself as the "water of life." Also, the baptism experience involves water, where we actually apply the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to our lives personally.
The events in my story today were considered minor interruptions to the conference, but isn't it amazing how the minor things can direct our thoughts and hearts to major things we need to learn and develop in our lives? What is happening in your life today?