Folding back the hatch, the soldier peered out of the tank with binoculars, the air had an odd smell. His gunner shouted something that he didn’t understand and he stepped down to have it repeated. At that moment he felt the engulfing flames burn through his skin and hair as the explosive burst into the tank.
He lost consciousness only to awake in sheer agony. He could not see, nor could he tell where he was, all he knew was he was burned, and badly.
The sole focus of his mind was the extensive pain that racked through his head and upper body. He drifted into unconsciousness and strange, fitful dreams. Months passed and the soldier returned home dangling between a state of shock and acceptance, believing the damage meant he would never see again, and only hear partially. The thing that tortured him most was knowing he had left his helmet on his seat and he might still see if he had left it on.
Five years and several surgeries later had restored his vision and the hearing in one ear. Being able to see again had transformed him from an angry shell to a grateful man. He walked into his class reunion wondering if his old classmates would recognize him. A girl he had known his entire life looked right at him without blinking. She appeared to struggle with recalling his name, so he volunteered it with a slight smile. To his surprise she was not surprised or embarrassed. Yes, he had changed physically, but no, she still knew him.
After a few short minutes conversation he realized why she had stared at him. The years in high school had been a fog, but he suddenly remembered his addiction, and realized he had been oblivious to the damage he had caused others around him. As he looked at her, his memory returned of the car accident and the limb she had lost in it. Now he stood before her, physically damaged as well and grateful for the simple gift of sight. He was painfully aware of the mess he had been before.
Their conversation continued for some time, and he felt the old flame between them rekindled. Would she see him again? He asked her in a moment of courage. She looked at him closely and he waited for the no. “You have changed. Were you the person I knew before, I wouldn’t even consider it” she said. He wondered what that meant. After a long and painful pause, she looked up into his face and simply said “yes”.
Moral of the story:
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
In Matthew 3:11 John explained what Jesus would do, baptizing with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Anyone changed by fire is changed for life and that is what I wanted this story to demonstrate. The idea of Jesus baptizing with the Spirit and with fire is a picture of a change well beyond a physical transformation. To walk away from what should be a guilty verdict and into acceptance and love transformed me. The old person is dead; the new life Jesus baptizes with is a powerful spiritual change from the inside first, moving outward and consuming who we were. I continue to marvel at what I see being changed in me, and laugh that I still look at the outside and think I really see the person.