“And the Lord
went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the
way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so
as to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21)
Fires raged through Southern
California, which are said to be only rivaled in severity by
those during the 1930’s. But now, the effects are the worst
ever because of population density and the increase of
suburban homes. Many homes have been lost and a number of
people have been killed as hundreds of thousands of acres
were burned. Horribly, at least some of the fires are said
to have been caused by arsonists. PEOPLE caused this
debacle, and it’s a reminder that the bulk of our problems
are caused by the sins of mankind.
Scripture does attach PURPOSES to
fires, which are used figuratively of: God’s protection
(Zechariah 2:5), God’s vengeance (Hebrews 12:29), God’s Word
(Jeremiah 5:14), the Messiah (Malachi 3:2), the Holy Spirit
(Acts 2:3), Angels (Hebrews 1:7), the tongue (James 3:6),
strife (Luke 12:49-53), affliction (Isaiah 43:2), along with
many other such references. But we are concerned with just
one, where the Lord guided Israel at night, by a “pillar
of fire.” We are designed to follow the Holy Spirit
of God, and He will lead us.
Immediately prior to the infernos in
areas of Southern California, there was another, relatively
“smaller” fire in the City of Carson, though it was not
“small” to those who were affected by it. Roselle, a lady
with the given name of Maria, had been a caregiver for
quadriplegics for a number of years in a variety of “group
homes” such as the one in Carson which burned on October 25th.
Two quadriplegics, Rudy and Reggie, were living in the home
at the time of the fire. Both of them lost their lives
during the blaze. Roselle also died in the fire, as did her
There were news stories about the fire,
which tended to suggest that the operators of the group home
were at fault in what happened. The battery in the smoke
alarm did not work, and it was stated that “the
house did not have a residential care license from the
California Department of Social Services” (Long Beach
Press Telegram, 10/25/03). The fire was quickly forgotten
in the press, overshadowed by the great fires that were
beginning to rage in Southern California. However, the
casualties in the group home have not been forgotten by
those who love them.
Dennis Stinson, a Board Member of
Friday Study Ministries, and a quadriplegic himself,
remembers Rudy, Reggie and Roselle with great affection.
They were his roommates, for Dennis actually lived at that
very same group home in Carson until just a few months ago.
“Everybody” knew Rudy and
Reggie at the VA, and “everybody
liked them.” Indeed they were nice guys. All of
them personally knew the Lord Jesus Christ, and as Dennis
said, their lives reflected Him and His love.
The news stories intimated that Roselle
(Maria) was trying to get out of the house when she was
stopped by a steel-barred grate from climbing out a bathroom
window. Dennis Stinson does not agree. He points out that
Roselle’s master bedroom had a door into the garage where
she could have quickly exited to safety. He says that “It
wasn’t Roselle’s nature to run away. She loved the men in
her care and would have given her life for them.”
The bathroom, he says, was in the hallway between her
bedroom and the room where Rudy and Reggie slept. “She
was on her way to them, to try and help them,” Dennis
said. “She just didn’t get there.”
Roselle died attempting to help others.
Roselle’s actions in life were not
perfect and ours aren’t either, but from Dennis’ impassioned
description of her caring nature, she was indeed a heroine
and deserves our praise. Rudy, Reggie and Roselle have gone
to be with the Lord and that is a good thing. Roselle died
trying to save others, which is very good indeed.
Her action did not succeed in saving
the men, but it reminds us of another exceptionally brave
deed 2000 years ago. Scripture reveals, “When
we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for
the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Rudy and Reggie, as
quadriplegics, were “without
strength” – they were in wheelchairs because they
could not move their arms and legs. You may not realize it,
but every one of us is “without
strength” as well. Only, our greatest lack of
strength is spiritual. We can do nothing at all because we
are by nature “ungodly.”
But there is good news – “Christ
died” for you and me.
Scripture reveals, that, in Christ, the
“love of God has been poured out in
our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us”
(Romans 5:5). Israel was guided by God, who “went
before them… by night in a pillar of fire to give them
light, so as to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21).
The One who led them, however, was, by and large, external
to them. That is, the NATION was guided by Him, but most of
the individuals did not personally trust in God or His Holy
Spirit. There were notable exceptions, such as Moses,
Caleb, Joshua and others, but most looked to themselves
rather than trusting in God.
The Holy Spirit of God is “IN
our hearts” when we receive Jesus Christ. Roselle
could not save “her” veterans, Rudy and Reggie because she
was merely human, though she was brave indeed. She was
stopped by the smoke and the frailness of her humanity.
Jesus Christ is, and always was, the
Son of God (John 1:1-14). He became human, but He is also
God. What we could not do because of our weakness, He did –
“God demonstrates His own love
toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died
for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ died, but in Him,
we are made ALIVE to God.
Through faith in Him we are given His
Holy Spirit, who leads us just as surely as Israel was led
in the wilderness through the pillar of cloud and fire. The
Spirit we are given is IN us, when we trust in Him. We
“HEAR” Him in our hearts and know what to do. The
circumstances of our lives often seem destroyed as if by
fire, but we are given LIFE, whether in this world or the
next, and we are LED safely through, by Him.
Jesus Christ is the Caregiver who
brings you safely out of the “fires” of this life. He gives
you His Spirit, who is like a guiding fire that lights your
way, until you are safely in the presence of God Himself.
Will you be led by Him?
Lord, I trust in You now. Please
forgive my sins, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Be to
me, Holy Spirit, like the “pillar
of fire” in the Book of Exodus, and show me the way.
Please lead me, Lord, and direct me in the way I should go.
In Jesus Name. Amen.
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"