Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Very Miner Miracle

Like many of you, over the past 48 hours I have been held captivated and enthralled by the unfolding drama of the mission to rescue 33 Chilean miners from the darkness and isolation of the shelter they had become trapped in, following a cave-in in July.

The story touches everyone of us who have been monitoring the situation... because it strips away some of the more selfish aspects of human nature and elevates the more noble elements that we would prefer to define our species by. Furthermore, the people directly affected by the events in Chile represent a good cross section of us. There were extroverts, there were introverts; every adult age group was represented by at least one of the miners... and when you bring their families into the equation... every single age and gender group in the human existence had some kind of representation.

Their story has encapsulated the full spectrum of human emotion; from fear and despair in the early days following the accident, through relief and tender hope upon the discovery that all 33 miners were still alive, to the spectacular joy and ecstasy that have unfolded in the past two days as one by one, each man has been successfully retrieved from their collective subterranean tomb, deep beneath the surface of Camp Hope. Underpinning all these emotions and chief among them, was love. It is love that provides the attachment that is necessary for us to experience negative emotions when disaster or danger looms. More importantly it is love that sustained the comradeship between the trapped miners, that fuelled the hope and faith of those waiting anxiously above... and it was love that drove and galvanised the efforts of the rescue workers strive ceaselessly until the mission to retrieve the miners was accomplished.

Chile's President - Sebastian Pinera, has played a very active role on the scene at Camp Hope and has seen his personal approval rating rocket to 71%. He has subsequently has vowed to improve conditions in mining and the country as a whole. He clearly senses a See-change for Chile in terms of it's perception overseas, it's domestic morale and fortitude and crucially it's economy. I watched him talking on television before I travelled to work this morning... he was adamant in making clear his vision and aim for a new emergent Chile that shakes off it's developing world stigma and becomes a stable Latin American developed economy.

I wish him and all his people well with that... I genuinely do. I just hope that in doing so, they don't lose sight of their character and sacrifice the wonderful qualities that have made the recent news such a joy to behold... disappear. You see... the problem with self-sufficiency is that it fools us into forgetting our accountability. The more comfortable we are in our environment, the easier it is to forget that we still depend on so much from God and neighbour alike.

There were several clear shots of miners emerging from the capsule and hugging relatives bearing a tee shirt with these words emblazoned on the back:

"Porque en su mano están las profundidades de la tierra. Y las alturas de los montes son suyas".

The translation is a verse from Psalms:

"In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him."
Psalm 95:4
The text immediately below that reads:
"De Él es la Honra y la Gloria"

... which translates to "His is the Honour and the Glory."

We were flooded with images of miners falling to their knees in prayer:

and there were quotes like this from the miners:

"I was with God and the Devil. They fought. God won".

In times of trouble, these very ordinary men and women know where to go for help... and they have the humility to give thanks to God... very publicly without any shame.

To an increasingly secular West... it is literally AND metaphorically half a world away.

Maybe it's tied up in superstitious religious custom... but it's hard to deny when you watched these events unfolding... that whatever lies on the outside... these people had a deep and devout faith.

While my heartfelt wish is to see the people of Chile find the prosperity that they seek... I would hate to see them lose the riches the already possess... riches which many in the West have foolishly turned their back on and casually cast aside without daring to examine what is there.

I want to leave you with a final thought... one for all of us.

Psychologist James Thompson said during the BBC News coverage, that:
"The miners went through 17 days of pure hell before they were found, 52 days of modified hell as they awaited rescue, and must now feel they are close to heaven."
It occurred to me that this mirrors the spiritual journey of humanity. In the same way that the miners were separated from civilization and trapped in darkness by fallen rock, the human race was separated from God's love by our sinful nature... our brokenness... our rebellion. This was our pure hell.

God did not give up on us. He sent Moses and the prophets and divine agents to witness to us, to guide us and give us direction as to how we should live while we were trapped by our sin. If we live moral lives in our own strength... this is where we are at. We may be acting out of love and kindness to one another... but make no mistake, we are still trapped in our sub-heavenly tomb by virtue of our brokenness. This is what we can call our modified hell.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:1-3

By his death on the cross and his glorious resurrection, we have the means to leave our prison and experience being close to heaven... before one day actually getting there by his grace.

So I guess the question I want to finish with is... where are you:
Pure Hell?
Modified Hell?

Close to Heaven?

There are no right or wrong answers... only honest ones. All I ask that you do is consider what you want to do with your answer to that question... and act upon it.

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