Running into the Smoke

It has been a hellish week in Boston, but as awful as things have been, the way people have responded has been incredible. Not many people are playing the blame game or using the situation to make political statements. Even cooler, people have generally been trying to focus on the heroes rather than the villains. The heroes I see people coming back to again and again are the first responders who ran into the smoke just seconds after the explosions on Monday.

Their homes were safer. Their homes were cleaner. But they ran into the chaos and the pain, because they wanted to help. Because that’s what they do.

Obviously, the bravery and the selflessness are inspiring by themselves. But I wonder if there’s even more that’s attracting so many people. I wonder if people are so drawn to these guys running into the smoke because they’re getting a glimpse of something bigger.

In Genesis 1, we see Earth before God started working on it. It’s not a pretty picture. The words used to describe it are formless and void. Nothing was living there, and how could it? The Hebrew word for formless could also be translated as uninhabitable (or so I’m told by people more intelligent than I am). Expecting to find life on Earth before God got his hands on it was a little like expecting to find ice in an oven.

And yet, God looked at this particular expanse of uninhabitable chaos, and, one day at a time, he created something beautiful.

It wasn’t like there wasn’t any beauty yet. God didn’t create Earth because he just needed something beautiful somewhere.  God had had Heaven for all eternity. Not only that, but Heaven was safer than Earth. It was cleaner than Earth. And yet God went into the chaos of Earth, and he made something beautiful.

He didn’t stop there, either. He’s spent the rest of human history moving into chaos. Human history is messy, painful, and, yes, chaotic. And even though his home has none of our mess in it, God keeps on showing up in our stories.

He keeps on running into the smoke.

Because that’s what he does.

He finds chaos, he finds pain, and he sets them right. Sometimes it takes minutes, sometimes it takes years, but the fact of the matter is we serve a God who is not in the business of hiding when things get messy.

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