Franklin and Nelson sat at their table at Griswold Inn in Essex, CT, like they had every morning since June of 1800. Their lives were routine and their conversations were usually bland. This morning they gratefully welcomed the interruption of an animated conversation at the next table. A bearded man dressed in leathers and smelling rather ripe was chattering excitedly to a couple of businessmen. Nelson, usually the more talkative of the two, feigned hunger and quietly cut into his sausage as he repositioned to better over-hear what was being said.
The stranger was insisting, “I am not exaggerating. The water in the pond was boiling when the air temperature was not much above freezing. And there were bubbling mud pots that smelled like rotten eggs. But, the most amazing thing was these holes in the ground that periodically erupt and water that shoots hundreds of feet into the air. I’m not kidding! Not only that, but the mountains are much taller than the Appalachians, the buffalo roam in herds of thousands and the grass is as tall as a man.”
The old man gulped the last of his breakfast and commenced telling about his near-death experience at the hands of Native Americans, when he suddenly remembered an appointment and hastily excused himself. A few minutes later Franklin leaned over and asked the two business men, “Who was that? “
“That was John Colter,” they explained, “He supposedly went on a government expedition with some guys named Lewis and Clark. He claims to have discovered a place with all of those exceptional geographical features that no one else has ever seen. We all humor him as he prattles on about his adventures. We figure some people need to believe in things like that to feel like life is exciting.”
Franklin and Nelson shook their heads at the crazy man and returned to their routine. They would both die never believing something as unusual and beautiful as what would become Yellowstone National park ever existed. In fact, they would never travel West of the Mississippi. They would be the poorer for it. Meanwhile, every year millions of others would visit and experience that beautiful place.
Two hundred and ten years later Sienna and Kareen sat at the local Starbucks sipping their lattes like they did every afternoon. Unlike Franklin and Nelson, they had been to Yellowstone, and many other unique places in the world. They owned smart phones and knew their way around NYC, where they worked for a trading company. But, in spite of their fast-paced lives and 21st century advantages, their lives were also mundane on that day when they both stopped talking to listen to the young man at the next table tell his girlfriend about his latest experience.
“It was just a small building, and everyone was singing to the top of their lungs and waving their arms in worship as if God was right there in the room with them. As you know, my arm was still in a cast. They laid hands on me and I was healed. I’m not kidding! I went to the doctor the next day and they x-rayed it and told me they had never seen a bone heal in one week like that. But then these people asked me if I wanted to receive “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” like the disciples and Mary the mother of Jesus did. They showed it to me in the Bible, and since I had already been praying to God for something to happen in my life, I said, ‘Yes.’ They prayed again, and I was suddenly overcome by a wonderful presence of God. I began speaking in a language I had never learned. It has changed my life.”
Sienna and Kareen shook their heads at the crazy man and returned to their routine. They might both die never believing something as unusual and beautiful as healing and Holy Spirit baptism exists. If so, they will be the poorer for it. Meanwhile, millions of others will pursue the life of faith that is described in the book of Acts and be forever changed by the power and love that God gives to those who seek Him with their whole hearts.
# posted by John W. Hanson @ Friday, January 04, 2019
Bishop Hanson’s Blog