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Holy Spirit disruptions: “There was another in the fire”

Lynne Baab • Saturday August 28 2021

Holy Spirit disruptions: “There was another in the fire”

I’m going to revert to childhood here. Do any of you remember this song?

Nobody likes me
Everybody hates me
Guess I'll go eat worms
Big fat juicy ones
Long thin slimey ones
Itsy bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms

It was fun to look up the lyrics. I’d forgotten everything except the first three lines. (For the remainder of the cute  worm poetry, look here.)

That song may be a childhood favorite, but it also captures an adult mood that I find myself experiencing from time to time. Everything and everyone is against me! I’m suffering! No one understands my challenges! Sometimes we love to wallow, feel sorry for ourselves, turn inward (or outward) in anger. Sometimes we are just too tired to look for God.

This blog post was inspired by another song, a praise song from Hillsong United that draws on the language of the book of Daniel. The prophet Daniel had three friends with some of the quirkiest names in the Bible: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Who could forget those names, because who could forget the story of Daniel’s three friends being thrown into a very hot fire by order of King Nebuchadnezzer? And who can forget the vividness of the account in Daniel 3:25, the words of an eye witness:“I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25)

Hillsong United evokes this story in a song, “Another in the Fire.” The song emphasizes Jesus’ presence with us in the fire and the flood:

There was another in the fire
Standing next to me.
There was another in the waters
Holding back the seas.

(You can read the lyrics here and watch/listen to the song in a traditional video form here and in a very moving pandemic version here.)

Because of the sending of the Holy Spirit to earth on Pentecost Sunday, we are not alone in situations that feel like fire or floods. Even when we want to wallow and feel sorry for ourselves, we are not alone. Even when we feel isolated and beleaguered, we are actually not alone.

Oddly enough, when I first heard the title of the song, I thought about the friendship between the three men. They were not alone in the fire because they had each other. Then I heard the song played in church, and I remembered the fourth person in the fire who looked like “a son of the gods,” words that evoke Jesus.

When we’re in that mood where we want to eat worms because the whole world is against us, we often don’t have the resilience to reach out to friends or family members who love us. We can’t focus our minds to pray or read the Bible. When I’m in my darkest places, I am usually completely stuck. I have to wait patiently for the Holy Spirit to bring a disruption, without judging myself for being stuck.

Sooner or later the Holy Spirit disrupts my self-absorption through variety of ways: A task to do to help someone. A person who shows love to me. An answer to prayer. A song. A poem. A view of nature. A garden. God always brings me back. I’ll paraphrase Psalm 30:5 (which focuses on weeping in the original): “Wanting to eat worms may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

I can look back on the numerous times God has disrupted my self-focus and dark mood, and I can thank God for bringing back joy, while I wait for God send the Holy Spirit to do it one more time.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. . . .
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
   and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
   more than those who watch for the morning,
   more than those who watch for the morning. (Psalm 130:1, 5, 6)

(Next week: Holy Spirit disruptions in the form of unexpected friends. Illustration by Dave Baab. I love getting new subscribers. Sign up below to get an email when I post on this blog.)

It’s so easy to condemn ourselves for so many things. If you are dealing with that, here are some blog posts that might be helpful:

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