The church calendar is rapidly moving towards Pentecost, a day we often refer to as the birthday of the church.
The devoted were waiting for something to materialize. Their minds must have been bursting with swirling questions and foggy uncertainty. Until the holy wind and fire descended, resting on their confusion, transforming fear into the courage that would change the world.
I have had the privilege of serving the Kelowna Fire Department as their chaplain, leading ceremonial events and supporting members.
As part of my training, I joined the Kamloops Fire Department which simulated a house fire for us, the chaplains. A concrete structure was filled with furniture and dummies. The interior was set alight, and thick smoke started to pour out of the windows and doors as the sirens drew closer.
The fire truck arrived, and the professionals went into action, hoses connected, the fire crew prepared to enter the building.
I watched as a mysterious object transpired; the crew placed a huge fan at the structure’s door and began to blow into the inferno. This scene bewildered me; why would you drive wind into a blazing and smoked-filled building?
Soon enough, the dummies were recovered, and the fire was stopped. The captain joined us and asked if we had any questions.
“Why would you blow air from a large fan into a burning building?”
The explanation was fascinating; having established an exhaust port, the positive pressure ventilation or airflow cleared the toxic, deadly smoke. The air is pushed in, helping both those trapped and the firefighters. The firefighter moves in with the cool air; they can then get to the seat of the fire.
I could not help but make the connection between our own lives, the burning building, and the toxic smoke of negativity that can often fill so many minds.
Or the relentless blaze of resentments, anger, insecurities, self-doubt, fears, and worries that can consume us like a house fire of the soul.
I believe that the work of the Spirit in life is that cool, strong air, a positive pressure of God’s Spirit that ventilates the way for God to rescue us and free us of life's toxic smoke.
On the day of Pentecost, God indeed placed the biggest fan to clear the hearts and minds of those first disciples who went on to turn the world upside down.
Romans 15:13 encourages us with this prayer, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
Be encouraged that the same Spirit is with us today and I’m sure many will agree; if ever there is a need for abounding hope, it is now.
Phil Collins is pastor at Willow Park Church in Kelowna.