A Spiritual Lesson from the Chilean Mine Rescue

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A Spiritual Lesson from the Chilean Mine Rescue

Events transpire that become the focal point of a generation. Ask anyone 53 years of age or older where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated, and they’ll give you vivid details. Whether it’s the space shuttle disaster or 9/11, the emotional impact of events like these has a way of seizing the heart focus of the entire world. Tragedy is most often the common denominator of these kinds of events. But every once and a while something happens that glues the eyes of the world to their television sets and collectively draws them to their feet in an international standing ovation … like the rescue of 33 Chilean miners from the tomb they’d been in for 69 days. Their odyssey has some metaphorical parallels to the odyssey all of us are on. If you’ll allow me to frame their story in some spiritual imagery, there just might be a greater lesson for us all. When word came back in August that a mine collapsed in Chile, the world automatically braced for the worst. Thirty-three men were dead; 33 souls gone. But then, after hearing some tapping on the cable from a drill bit, hope rose that there might still be some alive. On the 17th day, a small drill broke through the chamber holding the trapped miners and we learned that all of the men were alive. Then the gloomy news came that “if” they were to be saved, it would take 4 to 5 months. The thought of those men trapped in that horrible hole in the ground for all those months with no guarantee of rescue brought millions of people in the world to their knees on their behalf. It worked. Their prayers were answered. The rescue operation will probably go down in history as one of the greatest of all times. And we all celebrated as each man was pulled from the darkness to the light and reconnected with the heart of their families. Analysts have divided their drama into three parts. Part 1: the time spent trapped and waiting for rescue. Part 2: the emergence into the light of day and the bright lights of the world’s media (their 15 minutes of fame). Part 3: that time in the future when the klieg lights are shut off, the cameras stop rolling and the media stops calling. Each part of the drama has its demands. For many of the men, the third stage may prove to be the most difficult. Their 69 days spent in that tomb was a focused desperation that required them to bring their “A game” forward if they wanted any chance of survival. The second stage will be a blur for most of them. But that last stage is where they have to make the hard choices that enable them to grow from this experience, allow it to make them a better person and ultimately move on with their lives. It reminds me of the three stages of rescue of sinners separated from God … people like you and me. We’re trapped in a tomb of hopelessness. Only the heroic willingness of God to move heaven and earth on our behalf gives us any chance of rescue. The cross of Calvary is that “ground zero” point where Jesus plucks us from our doomed and lost position. We come to faith in Christ and are immediately struck by the overwhelming presence of the Light of the World in our life. There’s rejoicing and celebration, baptism and new friends. But then the passion of the moment gives way to the quiet new life that we’re faced with as a result of the dramatic events in our life. Are we going to allow those events to define us in such a way that we’re better people? Are we going to develop the disciplines of the heart and mind that enable us to take our darkest times and turn those things into an on-going testimony to redemptive power and presence of Jesus? Time will tell the rest of the story of the 33 miners. It’s going to tell your story and mine too. Let’s hope for all of us that part 3 of our story is the best part of it all. “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

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