Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

March 9, 2018

There is an old country expression regarding someone’s stubbornness such that they will not believe fire will burn.  In other words, the extent of one’s hardheadedness is they will not believe even the danger of fire can harm them.

          Other colloquialisms along this same line include the one about not poking a sleeping bear, the one about letting sleeping dogs lie and of course one of my favorites, if you play with fire you will in fact get burned!

          I am sure you can add to the list.

          What started me down this road of thinking was a crazy article that I read recently entitled, The Grim Map: Mapping the Grand Canyon’s Gruesome Legacy of Death (John Metcalf, May 26, 2015).

          You can read it too if you’d like:

          Don’t get me wrong, the last thing on earth that I would ever do is cite humor when loss of life is concerned.  Shall we say that some of these stories of deceased persons are great examples of what not to do.

          For example: “Hastrick of Hertfordshire, England climbed over the rock guard wall to take a photo of the rim, not of the Canyon, from the very edge. While holding a camera to his face, Hastrick backed toward the Canyon and fell 333 feet.”

          “Concession employee Stanley of Grand Canyon Village argued with his girlfriend, imbibed alcohol, then left to walk on the icy rim.”  Not a good idea, even sober!

          Then there was the report of a Grand Canyon Airlines plane carrying eighteen passengers that collided with a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter carrying four passengers.  The result was that a total of twenty-five persons lost their lives trying to get a better look at the gaping maw of the canyon (Total includes two pilots and one copilot).

          Add to this the countless individuals who apparently grasp for some object such as a hat that was blown off them and the occasional suicide and we come up with approximately 770 deaths at the Grand Canyon since the mid-1800s.  I think the yearly average is twelve.

          Yes, I know!  This is not a very uplifting story. 

          As I said earlier, sometimes we can just view a thing as a great example of what not to do.  And, if we are going to see the Grand Canyon any time soon, please be careful!

          But, as we dig a little more deeply into this matter, I think there is a greater story that we can discern.  Have you ever considered that the Holy Spirit is perhaps raining warning signs down upon us and in our blindness or fog of the mind, we just do not notice?

          For example, in my years of working with people in recovery, almost all of them began their journey down the substance road as just experimenting or having a good time. 

         Almost everyone I have worked with claimed the wish that they had never experimented in the first place; and, they had the nagging force beforehand that they really should not be doing this.

          There’s your sign!

          I have heard stories of teenagers who were egged-on to perform a prank, only to have it blow up in their faces.  The very persons who egged them on, not only left them holding the bag but used them as a laughing stock while watching the consequences of this action unfold as punishment.

          There’s your sign!

          How many times in life do we get a funny-tummy feeling as we are about to engage in an activity that we know is not in our best interest? 

          There’s your sign!

          Christ promised the Holy Spirit to protect us.  There is a great passage of Scripture to back this up that we rarely read except at funerals.

“All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:25-27 NIV).”

We are never left to our own devices.  But, we must pay attention and smell the coffee.

Furthermore, it was never God’s intention that we become a generation of handwringers.  The Good News is that we do not have to!

When the wind blows that hat off your head, please resist the urge to grab for it!  When that inkling of a funny-tummy feeling begins to tighten the midsection, sniff around.

You and I have been given a precious gift.  There is a reason Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter and the Counselor.



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