Three weeks ago, Mary and I set at a table at the Lahaina Fish House. We relaxed enjoying a gentle breeze as we watched the South Pacific waves crashing alongside our dinner table. We enjoyed some ciabatta bread with salted butter before Mary’s tilapia and vegetables came out along with my Greek salad. We finished off the lunch with an amazing piece of key lime pie and then strolled down the street stopping at a myriad of souvenir shops. We walked along the shoreline, admiring the yachts, sailboats, and cruise ships. We watched and listened to the laughter as kids played on the Banyan Tree in the middle of a courtyard, it had been an incredible day. Little did we know we would be one of the last to enjoy Lahaina and its storied history. We, along with the world, have watched how in hours, fire ravaged a beautiful town, took countless lives, and destroyed a hundred and fifty years of history. Fire shows no mercy. It doesn’t respect the wealthy or the poor, the educated or uneducated; it doesn’t care about your ethnicity. Fire destroys and purges everything in its path.
Years ago, while working at a Christian college, we sponsored a senior class and got to travel with them on their senior trip to Gatlinburg. We wanted to connect with them, make memories, so Mary stayed with the girls in their cabin, and I with the guys in there’s. After the first couple of days, they came to us and told us that they had pooled their money together and got us our own cabin. We were overwhelmed and grateful. We gathered our stuff, moved into the cabin, and as we entered, we noticed the cabins name, “No Problems.” It was a beautiful cabin, backing up to the woods, a spacious hot tub, and an amazing fireplace. The name and the cabin connected with us, so much so, that for years we would go back, often taking our kids to “No Problems.”
I’ll never forget in 2016 as we watched the news and saw the horrific fires that had broken out in the Smokies. I remember reading one particular story mentioning that Black Bear Ridge had been hit extremely hard. Instantly, I recalled that was where No Problems was located. I looked for the rental on the internet, but nothing came up, and I had a sinking feeling that No Problems had fell victim to the fire. The next visit we made to the area we took a drive up to Black Bear Ridge, when we rounded the corner, my fears were realized, No Problems was gone, and the forest behind It bare. Fire shows no mercy, it doesn’t value your memories.
While fires are terrible, there is one caveat to a fire. It purges. Though everything is lost, invariably life comes back, and often it comes back stronger. Forest fires purge the dead, eliminates the weak, and destroys the diseased. After a forest fire, growth is new, strong, and vibrant. In Gatlinburg, new cabins are replacing the old and new forest growth is emerging. In Lahaina, while it is abysmal now, the loss of life and possessions horrific, in time, new life will come. Beautiful buildings will replace the old, businesses will come back stronger, and there will be a new energy and excitement in Lahaina. While nothing will replace the past and its history, a new future lies ahead.
I share all this because there is an important spiritual principle to be garnered. When the Spirit fell in the book of Acts it was described as fire. It was a purging fire. It expunged out sin, weakness, and failure. Eleven disciples, who swore to be loyal to Jesus at the Last Supper, had failed miserably, and now, they sit in an Upper Room trying to piece life back together. They, along with 120 others, gather waiting on God’s promise. When it came, it came as fire, and it changed everything. Weakness was gone, boldness came, and a Holy power empowered them. It’s just days later that they stand boldly before the Sanhedrin, refusing to bow, and it’s a few chapters later they are described as people who have turned the world upside down. What happened? What changed? A fire. The Holy Spirit. It purged out the old and brought vibrant life!
Feeling weary? Feeling overwhelmed? Pray for a Holy fire to hit your life. It will change you forever. It will eradicate your past and bring you a vibrantly bright future. Discouraged by the direction of our country? Pray that God sends His fire, the Holy Spirit. It cleanses, it purges, it brings new life, and it makes all things new. God send us a book of Acts fire again.