Recently I was in the drive-through line ordering breakfast tacos for the family. While sitting and waiting patiently for my order, I noticed one of our city’s Deputy Fire Chiefs driving and then stopped at the business just across the street. I watched as Chief got out of the pick-up truck and began to walk up and down the sidewalk. After a few moments, it seemed as if Chief was lost, he paced a few more times up and down and then stepped off the sidewalk to get a different view from the street. It was my turn at the drive-through so I pulled up, paid, said thank you and made my exit. As I pulled into the street I tried to wave at Chief, but his attention was elsewhere.
As chaplain for our fire department, I know Chief well, so as soon as I got home I texted him to make sure everything on his end was alright. No response back. I figured later that I would just go up to the station and ask him in person. Chief, what did you lose? Why the pacing up and down the sidewalk? Are you ok? I got that opportunity two days later when I found myself sitting having coffee with our department Fire Chief and both Deputy Chiefs. I set up the scene from my vantage point and jokingly asked, what was going on? I pointed out that it was as if something was lost and you seemed so determined to find it. Chief interrupted me; “hydrants,” he said. “I was looking for a fire hydrant the guys couldn’t find.”
I learned two things that morning. First, annually the station takes time to locate, map and test every hydrant. All of our city's hydrants were accounted for except one. Come to find out, some shrubbery had become overgrown, hiding the fire hydrant. At some point after I left the drive-through Chief spotted the masked hydrant, got his hands on a chainsaw, cleaned up around the hydrant and then placed a blue reflector out in the street. A blue reflector? The second thing I learned was that blue reflectors placed in the middle of the street serves as a very important tool for fire fighters as they respond to an emergency. When the night is dark and when there is low visibility, the blue reflector serves as a beacon pointing to the lifeline found at the hydrant. I see them everywhere now! When driving in my city, when driving on vacation in other cities, I am always looking to spot blue reflectors and then follow them to the right or left to see the hydrant!
If we were honest, and with two weeks left in 2020, it seems as if we have been journeying through the dark night and visibility has been really low. In the midst of one of the most difficult years many of us have faced we must look to the right and to the left to see what we have learned and celebrate what God has done and will do as the new year comes. I would like to give you five “Blue Reflectors.” May these five reflectors point you to Jesus, the true help and relief for the difficulties you, your family and your community may be facing. Know that you are not alone in this. We have all been thrust in this, and together we can look to Jesus, the source of life and a life that is vibrant and bright!
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, ‘We have defeated him!’ Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” Psalms 13:1-6
“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Psalms 27:1-3
“Then he asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones become living people again?’ ‘O Sovereign Lord,’ I replied, ‘you alone know the answer to that.’ Then he said to me, ‘Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.” Ezekiel 37:3-10
“And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:21-23
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:14
“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people.” Luke 1:68
Merry Christmas friends, and may God bless our New Year!
Bobby Contreras serves as pastor at Alamo Heights Baptist Church in San Antonio.